The other day, I was reading through Romans and came upon a verse that really stopped me cold.
It was Romans 11:5-6, which says, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
I am a remnant…chosen by God…by grace alone. Wow!
One of the first questions I intend to ask when I get to meet Jesus face-to-face is, “Why? Why did you save me?” It remains one of the greatest mysteries of my life and for these reasons:
1. I bring nothing to God except what God has already given to me.
I have no great knowledge. I have absolutely no wealth or assets. I have no important connections and very little influence.
I have a God-given talent to write and communicate. But, other than that, I have nothing else to offer. Like the lyrics of the Little Drummer Boy proclaims,
“Come, they told me; A newborn king to see.
Our finest gifts we bring, to lay before the king.
So, to honor him, when we come.
Little baby, I’m a poor boy, too.
I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give our king.”
Me, too. I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give my king. Yet, he saved me. Why?
2. I have no riches.
Growing up in a single-parent home, I was probably raised in what could have been considered American poverty standards of that day, but my mother never made it feel that way. I always had food to eat, clothes to wear and a warm house. I even had a bicycle and a tiny black-and-white TV for entertainment.
Today, my meager offering, while a significant part of my income, certainly won’t close a church if it were to disappear. I could not be considered a stalwart giver by any charitable organization, although I support several. I try to generously give to others whenever possible, but nobody will ever say my gift ever made a difference in their life.
But, God continues to meet every one of my needs and provides more than I deserve. I started with nothing, and accumulated little more than that as I navigated through life. Yet, God saved me. Why?
3. I was a heavy mocker of Christians.
Yes, I grew up in a Lutheran church, but hated every minute of it. By the time I was 20 years old, I had developed a deeply-rooted and well-earned distrust of pastors. It still manifests itself in my disdain for church games, routines, traditions and theatrics.
That disdain and distrust carried over to people who attended churches as well. In my twenties, anyone who dared share a Bible verse with me was guaranteed an immediate, one-sided, fire-breathing rant that left them smoking where they stood.
I knew nothing of the Bible, yet, in my mind, I knew all there was to know about God and Christianity. Few dared to step out on faith and attempt to change my mind. Forty years later, I am eternally grateful for a young friend, Claire (Carillo) Bird, who patiently attempted to answer my questions and planted seeds decades before they could be harvested.
In college, I made several women in my English class cry with my passionate pro-abortion speech. In the early years of my marriage, I relentlessly mocked my now ex-wife for her faith.
Yet, in 1995, at 34 years of age, God saved me. Why?
4. In the years since, I really can’t point to a single soul I led to Christ.
You could use a toddler’s Easter basket to collect all the kingdom fruit I have harvested for God.
Most of my lifelong friends have yet to accept Christ’s gift of grace, forgiveness and eternal life. You could toss into that group many of the relatives who are most important to me.
In fact, I really can’t point to a single soul that I actually led to Christ. I have had a few assists — maybe — but I am no evangelistic superstar by any stretch of the imagination.
God didn’t save me for my ability to help save others, but he continues to provide for me. Why?
5. I allowed myself to be sidelined.
I hear stories all the time about how people came to faith and went on to do amazing things for God in building his kingdom. They eloquently describe their life before Christ, their encounter with Christ, and their fruitful life afterward.
But, for me, even after being saved, I allowed myself to be sidelined by loneliness, lust and my fear of abandonment. I became hooked on pornography two weeks after my 12th birthday, and remained caught in its unrelenting grip until a few months after my 49th birthday in 2009.
Like I said, I am a mess, but God chooses to love me anyway. So, the question remains, “why?”
6. I make God smile!
There are only two reasons that I can find. Psalm 149:4 says, “For the LORD takes delight in his people.”
God delights in me – and in you, fellow Christian.
Zephaniah 3:17 makes it even more clear. “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
I find that to be absolutely amazing.
The God of the universe…the creator of heaven and earth…the God of infinite knowledge, infinite power, infinite resources…created me. And why? To simply rejoice over me with singing.
The only way I can compare that love is to the way I love my 16-month old grandson. I had the opportunity to accompany him on his first trip to the zoo today where he wasn’t just being pushed in a stroller, but actually toddling from display to display.
Through his frequent shouts of amazement and feeble attempts to communicate with animals in their language, I delighted in him.
He has absolutely nothing to offer to me. He can do nothing for me. Yet, I love him with all my heart just because I delight in him. He makes me smile and that’s enough.
That must be how God looks at me, too.