The Law and Grace. Day twenty-four...
Going to an Eagles concert, a NASCAR race, a Super Bowl game, an all‐inclusive cruise in the Bahamas—all causes for excitement, right? But excitement about going to a church meeting? I don't think so!
And yet I remember getting in line at about 6:30 in the morning to save places for my group of friends for the evening service (at the Brownsville Revival mentioned yesterday).
“Is this possible,” I asked myself, “That people are so excited about being with the Lord, they would stand in line all day just to get in to the meeting?” But it's what I was doing, along with hundreds of other people who were saving places in line for friends and family.
I had come to Pensacola to encounter God, but I hadn't expected this. I wept (and I weep as I remember) that people loved God enough to stand in line all day long just to be with Him in an evening meeting. I remember thinking I could have gone home at that very moment and would have been fully satisfied. Just to see so many people hungry for the Lord thrilled me. I had never seen such hunger.
Oh, the line itself was a worship service!
We sang. We prayed with each other. We talked about the goodness of God. The people standing in the line were all about God, and I'd never been anywhere before that was all about God.
As I mentioned yesterday, I had the page from my yellow legal pad folded up in my pocket—the list with all my sins on it (the ones I could think of). And I was certain the Lord would bring more to my remembrance.
But my list just didn't seem so important to me at the moment.
Evening came, the doors opened, and we temporarily lost some of our graciousness towards each other as we rushed to get into the sanctuary. The building would only seat a little over 5,000 people, and some of the folks toward the end of the line wouldn't make it in.
My friends and I sat in the balcony, where we could better see what was going on with those in attendance. As people were waiting for the service to begin, some were shaking, some were nodding—all very strange manifestations to me.
Then that list of mine came back to my remembrance.
So I decided to read my Bible in preparation for whatever God was going to put me through. I knew God loved me and would be just in His treatment of me. And that was okay with me, because I was looking for freedom from at least some of the stuff on my list.
I turned to Psalm 3 and began reading.
LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. (Psalm 3:1–3 KJV)
I remember pausing at “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” As I began to read those words over and over, drops of water began to fall on the page. “Where is that coming from?” I wondered. And then I realized those drops of water were tears—my tears.
Suddenly, I had a complete shift in perspective.
The words of that Psalm were no longer words that David wrote. They were my words—as if I wrote them myself. And I was speaking those words to the Lord Himself. I was an audience of one with God. In the midst of thousands of people God wanted to be with me—and my list was nowhere on His mind.
I began to weep uncontrollably. My shoulders were heaving and apparently I could be heard sobbing with joy. People three and four rows in front of me were turning around to see what was going on. I must have been quite the pre‐service spectacle.
Needless to say, I was forever changed. And the service hadn't even started yet!
Not once during any of the meetings we attended that week did God bring up a single thing on my list. Instead, He introduced me to His own list—the down‐deep stuff that He was graciously working on in my life.
Since then, it's been more difficult to hang on to that conscience of sins.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I still have my moments, but it's not the same as it used to be.
Now please don't misunderstand what I'm working on here. To no longer have a conscience of sins does not mean that we no longer have sin in our lives. It's not that we don't have sin, it's that we have a different perspective.
Let me put it to you this way:
Why don't you let God tell you what needs changing, instead of trying to put your own list together? In other words, why don't you so intently engage the Lord that correction just comes as a natural part of your relationship with Him? That's all a part of His grace.
Have a good day,