This is the quote that gripped my heart in 1990. That year I stood in the bookstore of Olivet Nazarene University, I opened a book, I don’t remember the title, but this quote was on the inside cover. As I read it, I literally felt a fire kindle in my heart and I knew God had called me to teach and preach.
Many years have passed since that moment. I look back at the path of my life and am both amazed and saddened. I’m amazed at the grace, faithfulness, mercy and love of my Heavenly Father. I’m saddened at the selfishness, wrong choices and sins that scar my memory and brought pain to those around me.
I’ve heard people say that they have no regrets. I cannot say that. I regret the wrong choices I made that brought bondage in my life. I regret the hurtful words I have spoken at times to those closest to me. I regret the times I thought only of myself and my pleasure or comfort. There are many things in my life that I would do differently if given the chance.
I am thankful however for the lessons learned because of those things. I am thankful for the wondrous truths I can testify of my God because of those things. Because I was bound, I know the freedom that can only be experienced by someone whom the Son has set free. Because of the sickening awareness of my transgressions, I know what it is to sincerely repent and in turn be overwhelmed by the loving, forgiving grace of God. I know what it is to stand redeemed, knowing that I am pleasing to God, not because I am worthy or righteous, or because I have jumped through all the right religious and moral hoops, but because God views me through the filter of the cross; because my salvation is not based on any deed but on the sole fact that God chose, for reasons of His own, to reconcile this sinful man to Him.
If I could, I would undo the wrong decisions of my past, but I cherish the things God has taught me through my failures. I choose to draw from my past and refuse to let my past draw from me. I choose not to wallow in self depredation, but to rise up and live in the knowledge that God’s calls are irrevocable. He has redeemed me. That means that He has exchanged my old, sinful rotten self for His glorious, holy self. He possesses this shell of marred flesh and in so doing makes me holy. Even as I write this I am abundantly aware of how much more I need my Lord. I have come to know, as Paul confessed, that in me dwells nothing good. I have come to detest the fleshly me and am learning each day to depend on God to put it to death. “More of Him and less of me” is not only my heart’s desire; it is the only condition in which I can truly live.