I wasn’t trying to be defiant or difficult. I knew the answer and I believe the answer, I just, I don’t know, the cracking dam that wasn’t holding back my tears very well this morning was going to totally give way any moment and I had to answer the way Paul did:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. – 1 Timothy1:15
I believe that Christ has made me righteous. By faith, I am no longer a sinner. I am a saint. And I say that with much trembling and feel as though I should say it while on my face. It is the truth that gives me such hope… that Christ has done it all to make me right. Righteous. Yet, I still live in this decaying flesh and am weighed down by the gravity of this fallen world, and out of me still comes the falling short and missing the mark which should result in my judgment, but by the amazing grace of my Savior, I have freely received His perfect goodness and abundant life. He paid the costly price to put to death all my sin in Himself so that I could live. I have not earned this. I still fall oh so short. More than I fall short of jumping to the moon.
Some of my sin I can frankly see and agree with Him about, and know He will graciously wash away. I look to His light to expose my way and lead me. I feed on His faithfulness and goodness and truth. I trust that He never ceases to intercede for me. And even still there are some depraved ways in me that I never knew were there 10 years ago. Some twisted ways I don’t have any idea about are yet to be exposed.
Today, when I was cleaning my car I stuck the skinny tipped vacuum attachment in a crevice between my seat and the middle console. There was no way I could see in there, no matter how light it was outside or what kind of contorted position I put myself in to try and visualize where I should put the vacuum hose. So I just shoved the hose in there as far as I could, moved it around, and out came a fork, a band aid, and a piece of old, dried up something that used to be edible.
I have fallen for the lie that because I can’t see the junk in hidden places in me and seem to be pretty cleaned up that I’m… righteous. By the grace of God, He’s sucked the junk out into the light and shown me that I have no right to call myself righteous based on what I see or know. When I answer the loaded question, “Are you a sinner?” I am scared silly to say, “No!” Even though I know I am no longer a sinner but a saint. I don’t want to give my enemy the open door to tripping me up with self-righteousness ever again. I know that’s not the reason behind the answer, “No,” my pastor (who I look to as a loving dad in the Lord) was looking for. I just need to keep at the very forefront of my mind an answer that will stave off any notions of earned holiness. I think I shall practicing saying:
“No, by the work of Christ alone, No! I am not a sinner. By Christ alone.”
Many forces were at work in me this morning: fatigue, the catharsis of writing a novel based out of some of my own experiences in life, the search for the heritage of grace and mercy that weaves itself through history that I’m finding glimpses of in the women’s Bible study, the long obedience in the same direction I’m walking daily in for the past 22 years, years of longings unfulfilled. Many waters. Deep calling to deep only expressed in waves of salty tears.
I think I will ask the ladies at our next study to write a doxology with me. A doxology in response to the truth about God we will have learned thus far thru Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. They don’t have to read it or share it at all if they don’t want to. But an exercise in putting to words the truth we’ve been changed by, intimately and individually, would be really good.