This Little Light of Mine
I have often heard the phrase “You deserve better” in a movie, on social media, or for that matter, in real-life conversations.
“You deserve better.” But I must ask, do we really want what we deserve?
When I learned the theme for the November issue of Surry Living, was gratitude, I first thought of how truly grateful I was that I had not gotten what I deserved. What do I deserve, you might ask? You tell me.
From my earliest memories, I was a born liar. I guess if I’m honest, I wanted to make my stories sound better than they were, make me better than I was. It got so bad that sometimes I didn’t even know the truth anymore. Did that happen that way, or was it somehow different? I suspected myself, didn’t trust myself or the stories I told myself, and knew deep down that I was a fraud. I lied on top of lies so often that no one could trust anything I had to say. What does someone like that deserve?
What about when I got older, in my early teen years? Being a taller-than-average thirteen-year-old, I found that I could go into most convenience stores and gas stations and buy beer for my friends without ever getting carded. Wow, I was popular all in an instant! It wasn’t long before I wasn’t buying booze just for them. What does someone like that deserve?
Then drinking turned to drugs, and with that, my destructive behavior only worsened. Drugs aren’t free, and the more we used them, the more we wanted. It was inevitable then when my buddies and I turned to theft. We’d steal anything, then sell, trade, pawn, or barter for our drugs. Penny stuff at first, but with our successes grew our boldness. What does someone like that deserve?
These confessions are more of the milder crimes of my youth and young adult life. I’ve done or thought to do, such terrible things that I’m ashamed to share them in detail. Suffice it to say that I was someone that no one could or should ever trust, not family, not friends, not employers, nor perfect strangers. When looked at in retrospect and the fullness of its depravity, it’s plain that my life—that I—was bereft of most any redeemable quality.
At one point, I finally tried to clean myself up to be a better person. And with help, I was successful. Even in that, I knew I was a fraud. I knew what I was guilty of and capable of deep down. But then, I’d burned all bridges, ascended mountaintops only to fall into deep despair, and experienced most of what the world calls success or failure. And I found it empty and wanting.
But God himself, in answer to the prayers of my family I’m sure, placed a call on my heart so strong, so impossible to be satisfied in any other way, and brought me to a place where I stopped running and finally let him have what was left of me. The truth is, like the mongrel dog, I am a rescue, and only Jesus could have changed me. He saved me from my worst enemy, myself. And it was only through his grace and forgiveness that kept me from getting exactly what I deserved. Instead of the proper and just punishment for my multiplicity of crimes and flaws of character, which had so hurt and wounded so many, he delivered me to his Father as someone born anew, without blemish, clean, whole, and remade through his own sacrifice for my dreadful life. Now I was, am, loved, accepted, forgiven.
We should turn to him, all of us having been redeemed, rescued as it were, from what we deserve, and delivered by grace into his unmerited “better.”
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. (John 10:9-11 NLT)