February 6, 2012

A Wretch Like Me

For reasons I've yet to logically explain, God's led me to some places that are way outside my ordinary—like prison. Here I've met people I may have crossed the street to avoid, looked down on in judgement or never even encountered. Yet here I also meet people whose transformed lives show me the incredible, indescribable, incomprehensible love of Jesus whose amazing grace sets us free—ALL of us. Today at Internet Cafe Devotions I share about one of those experiences.

I wish you could join me for a church service in the prison I visit regularly. Together we’d experience praise that’s loud and joy that’s overflowing. We’d see worship that’s raw, transparent and vulnerable.

An outside guest recently shared his testimony. “I was a stone cold drunk for 20 years. Sometimes I’d be driving on the expressway and I’d be so drunk I’d roll down the window, throw up and keep driving. I did crystal meth. I was into pornography, adultery, thieving.”

I cringed at the raw and ugly details of a life so obviously devastated by sin. And I marveled as he proclaimed God’s redemptive and transforming grace.

In the broken places of this world I continually hear similar testimonies from people who had hit bottom and literally had nowhere else to turn—except to Jesus.
(image credit/Creation Swap)

Sometimes I get serious spiritual whiplash going from the active, out-loud faith in the prison to the cautious, silent faith in the suburbs.

In a community Bible study I attend, most of the upper-middle class women are seeking faith and have been part of the group for years. Yet even though they’ve heard lots of solid biblical teaching, it seems few have grown. Requests for personal testimony are usually met with uncomfortable silence. Many still seem to hold Jesus at arms’ length.

You and I don’t have to literally be in jail to be imprisoned. We can be locked behind bars made of things stronger than steel. Things like doubt, fear, hurt, anger, pride, jealousy, insecurity, worry, guilt. The list goes on.

In suburbia the greatest barriers to life-changing faith might be the comfort and materialism of our affluent lives. Who needs a savior when we live in kingdoms of our own making?

Plus, we’re not wretches. At least not like the man who shared his testimony!

Or are we?  

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Unknown said...

My darling Kelli..."YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY BABY". In reading your blog today I think I realized more than you did that you were chosen by God to witness in that prison a person that had been saved and wanted to express the depths from which he came. His testimony you were prepared and ready to hear. I think it surprised you coming from the "suburbs" that Jesus has opened your eyes to accept this testimony (and person) and Praise the Lord for it. Others don't respond and appreciate and are shy because they are not where you are!! ie..."YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY BABY" I Love You, Aunt Dorothea

Denise said...

Great post, Kelli. May I never forget that I am a wretch who needs God's grace every minute of every day.

Sue J. said...

If God were waiting tables, would we say, "Just top me off, please"? Grace is freely given, but grace came to us with tremendous cost. We think what we go through sometimes is so tough. But when we look to the cross..."I'll never know how much it cost, to see my sin upon that cross."

John Newton picked the right word when he said AMAZING grace. None of us can stand, much less love and serve, without it! NONE....

Sharon Sloan said...

Hi, Kelli! Just stopping by to say I LOVE your article in this month's P31 Magazine! I loved it when I read it as part of the editing team...and it's even better in color! :) May many be spurred on to missions trip for God's glory and purposes!

Rejoicing in His goodness,

Hester's Heart said...

Kelli, you have masterfully described this message - your writing is effective and your word pictures convicting! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and being REAL!! I discovered your site from your P31 article for April and wanted to visit your website! I was so blessed by your mention of Haiti - I will be leaving the 24th of this month to minister with Mercy League International - your testimony encouraged me. Blessings to you Kelli, Keep shining for our King!!

Love, Hester Christensen

AmyAlves said...

Hi Kelli,
I found your blog from sister Hester! :) I long for raw worship that lasts more than a day all underneath a blanket of grace! Thank you and keep sharing girl! -Blessings, Amy Alves from www.fullherlife.com

Carmen said...

Yes, our over-abundantly blessed lives often lead us to the very things the Lord abhors. Pride, haughtiness, shallow living, etc. Sometimes I too wonder who is worse off spiritually. Materialism is like a heavy curtain over our heart and mind blinding us to the reality of why we're here and what's going on. When we see it, we forget so easily. I've never been to a 3rd world country, and I've never experienced true hunger or having to go without a need. I can't even imagine what that is like. One thing I cannot forget, is that I am a wretch. I have gratefully accepted His sacrifice for me, and yet I know I do not fully understand what He went through to make that possible. This journey I am on, I do not understand either. I just place my hope in Him; there is none other.

I'm sorry if I've gone on. I really enjoyed this well-written post and agree whole heartedly!