(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on September 28, 2019. You can find it here.)
Has God ever ambushed you?
I recently attended a conference session about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). The speaker did a wonderful job of applying this timeless story by discussing the rocks we all carry around in our pockets, just waiting for the opportune time to lob them at “that one person.” And we each knew who “that one person” was for us.
Except I didn’t.
I racked my brain for someone I simply itched to see face hardship, a soul I harbored resentment toward. Nada.
And then, in His customary blend of grace and truth, the Lord leaned in close and whispered, “It’s you.”
Great. Can we talk about someone else, please? I could comb back through my past and try to drum up a different candidate.
As I stood there with the same Jesus who disarmed the opponents of that shame-hunted woman two millennia ago, the fog cleared. Of course it’s me. My spiritual pockets are so loaded with ammo it’s amazing the waistband still holds. The pebbles I’ve accumulated over time are mean names and biting criticisms: Idiotic. Boring. Pathetic. Pointless. Waste of time. Alone. Not enough. Baby. Controlling. Hopeless. Undeserving. Ridiculous. And on and on they go. (Oh, believe me, I have more.) These weapons are available for hurling whenever the need should arise.
What constitutes a need, you ask? Every time I catch a glimpse of myself at the wrong angle in the mirror. Or when someone points out a typo. Or when I say a goofy thing in public. And countless other occurrences of falling short during any given day. Basically, every chance grace has to infuse my heart in a moment of embarrassment, I beat it to the punch with a rock. Blood oozes down my forehead once again as the cross loses ground in my heart.
So there I am, mid-conference, vast artillery exposed, and I can hardly breathe. I’ve been caught by the King of mercy. Absolutely ambushed. Compassion meets me just as it met the adulterous woman in her nakedness, and the same gospel garment—that ever-reaching blood of the Lamb who was slain—is flung out deep and wide to cover me as it covered her. Who is like our Savior, our Rescuer?
I’m absolutely convinced that Jesus’ presence is accompanied by the sound of pebbles dropping. A circle of vacant rocks surrounded our sister two thousand years ago, abandoned by their owners at the word of their Maker. These weapons I’ve been toting around were meant to be redeemed. They’re smeared with my blood, but my blood will never be enough; they’ll always cry for more. It’s only when I empty them from my pockets that I can build them into an altar for remembering the surpassing and sufficient grace of Christ.