In last week’s post, Grace Upon Grace | Part 1, we established that we’re all different. Every single one of us is unique in our own way. Not one of us has the same story. Not one of us has the same past, present, or future. So that being said, how can it be that people from all walks of life, all backgrounds and cultures, questionable or not, find themselves at the heart of a single story?
It’s clear we have nothing to do with it. So where does that leave us?
It leaves us at the foot of the Cross. It leaves us forever changed. It leaves us at the shore of the vast ocean before us that is GRACE.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Last week’s post also established that there are four different groups of people in this world. We see this in Psalm 107. Here’s a quick recap:
- “Some wandered” (v.4)
- “Some sat in darkness” (v.10)
- “Some were fools” (v. 17)
- “Some saw the deeds of the Lord” (v.23-24)
Four different pasts. Four distinct paths. Four unique stories of redemption.
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.
Some of us were bound and held captive to death, darkness, and sin. We rebelled against God, we rejected Him, we scoffed in His face. We engaged in our sinfulness, immersed ourselves in the world. Suddenly we recognized a gnawing sensation at our wrists and ankles and deep within our hearts – a persistent pain, a nagging discomfort. As we gazed down, we found the shackles of our sin cutting into our wrists and ankles. Prisoners of sin. Prisoners of darkness. Destined for hell and eternal damnation. And as we were brought low, as we realized none could save us from our plight, we cried out to God. We pleaded with Him to save us and He delivered us from our distress! He freed us from the power of darkness, He rescued us from eternal death and suffering. He loosed our bonds, He broke our chains! The shackles were made no more! But He didn’t stop there, no! He obliterated the doors holding us captive! He broke in two the metal bars restraining us! He broke us out of the prison of our sin! He made us FREE!
But why? Why did He do such a thing for those who grieved His heart time and time again – for those who would certainly grieve His heart countless times more? He did it because He loves us with an everlasting love, with a love that cannot be conquered by even the most egregious of sins. And because of His love, He offers us mercy mingled with grace.
forgiveness; withholding a deserved punishment out of forbearance and compassion
unmerited favor; offering what is not deserved out of love and kindness
Note the escalation of this particular “redemption story:”
- Man was held captive to sin and destined for hell
- Man reached the end of themselves
- Man humbled themselves and cried out to God
- The Lord delivered man from their distress in the most fitting way
- Man thanked God for His love and providence
Fellow former prisoners, what is our response to His deliverance? Do we praise Him for His boundless mercy? Do we thank Him for casting our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west? Do we thank Him for allowing us to reach the end of ourselves so that we would have the clarity and meekness to cry out to Him? Do we praise Him for delivering us from our distress in the most perfect of ways? Our lips must never stop singing His praises! Our hearts must never forget how He freed us from our chains!
To all those still imprisoned: Know that you are not bound by your sins. Know that death and hell and Satan have no authority over you! The chains have already been broken. The only thing keeping you a prisoner is yourself. Jesus has already freed you from your bonds! Let Him lead you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light! He is a God of countless second chances! His mercy is boundless and His grace is unbelievable – but you better believe it, because it’s YOURS. The shackles are gone, friend. You are no longer held captive by sin, but you must make the decision to follow after Christ. He broke the chains, He opened the doors, but you have to choose to move. You have to choose to walk in the freedom that has so graciously been granted to you.
So walk in freedom, beloved! RUN! Run into the arms of Your Savior! And let Him nurse those wounds around your wrists and ankles. Let Him show you what freedom really is. And as you put one foot in front of the other, as you leave that prison behind, thank Him for His steadfast love. Praise Him for His wondrous works towards YOU.
Free from sin and death and hell, a prisoner you shall be no more.