Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thanks for the Dawn

As I've been working my way through the book of Isaiah for this year's BSF study, I've been met time and again with the reality of most people's spiritual stupor before the living God, the Holy One. On one hand, I too feel provoked by visions of the Lord "sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up" (6:1); I don't see Christ much this way, nor tremble under him in reverent awe.

But I am also filled with a deep sense of gratitude to this same Lord, this reigning and ruling King. Millions of others may spend their whole lives either openly dismissing the gospel, or more likely, going about aloof or ignorant of his resurrection and judgment to come (Rev. 20:11-15). But in his kindness I have been given his Spirit, my sight of him has been restored, and in my deepest being I know that he is true. In fact, the very first time I believe I saw Christ for who he really is, it was an inescapable mental image of what is known as Christos Pantokrator, "the Messiah All-Powerful," who is coming again to judge the living and the dead. But he did not terrify me; he also showed me that he gave up his life in agony upon a deserted cross to remove my sins and to become my own Savior.

Every time I think of those around me who have never seen his Light or who have fallen away from faith in him, I thank God that for whatever reason unknown to me, he has lovingly brought me to faith and has kept me faithful. The words of Augustine come to mind: "Yet if any man makes a list of his deserts [merits], what would it be but a list of your gifts?" (Confessions IX.13). Each day I cannot boast that I have deeper spiritual insight or godliness or purity of will than anyone else. All I can do is boast in the Savior who gives me these things in his time and measure. "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Cor. 4:7).

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