(Friends: Today concludes the Saturday Series, in which we have shared messages that relate to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto. I hope you have found the messages helpful, and thanks for reading them. Glen).
The Saturday Series - Conclusion
"The Gift and The Gift"
I became a born again believer on September 17, 1975. I thought of the day - and even more, the experience - when glancing at my watch yesterday morning. It happened to be 9:17, which reminded me of a time now so long ago. The realization settled upon my heart that everything and everybody that presently blesses my life would be absent had it not been for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that provided His presence and working in my life. The thought blessed me with much joy, but also with a strange sense of what I can only describe as horror. "What if," I thought to myself, "what if that day of grace had never happened?" Certainly the conjecture was unnecessary, but the thought came, and with it a palpable sense of the dark path my life would have taken apart from the Lord Jesus.
"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).
I thought of my wife. Frances and I met in church, where I would not have been had I not been born again. I have no words that begin to express the void that would have accompanied my existence without the gift of this most amazing daughter of our Heavenly Father. "He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22). Solomon with all his wives did not begin to know the glory I have received through the one God gave to me. Life without her? As I have mentioned in these messages before, if the Lord came to me and offered me another hundred earthly lifetimes of blessedness, I would simply ask, "With Frances, Lord?" If He indicated not, I would respectfully respond, "Thank You, Lord, but I'll pass on that."
I thought of my children. Marie, Noah, and Emmie have been and continue to be shining lights that reveal to me God's goodness in countless ways. I have learned so much of our Heavenly Father's heart through being a father myself, and through loving and being loved by offspring so dear and so near. Add to this our grandchildren, Jackson, Emma, and Ewan, and, well, I have no excuse for failure to realize the wonder of God's fatherhood and of being His child through Christ. "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward" (Psalm 127:3).
I thought of friends, nearly all of whom I would not know apart from that day in September, 1975. Faces and hearts now parade before me in my heart as I think of the grace I have known through the companions of life, and the emptiness I would have known without them. I cannot begin to thank our Lord enough for the friends by whom He has so enriched my life. "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).
I thought of the path to which the Lord called me. On August 2, 1978, He called me to communicate His Word in a way so unmistakably personal that I look back and smile every time the memory graces my heart. Of course, I also think that Lord must have surmised, "Well, Glen can't do much of anything else. I may as well call him to preach!" :):) Seriously, I can honestly say that I cannot imagine any other path of life. The completely undeserved and too often poorly executed calling still thrills me to this moment, and it remains the purest joy to speak or write "all the words of this life" (Acts 5:20).
I thought of all you, who read these messages. Most of your faces I have never seen, but so many of your hearts have shined brightly and often upon my face. I shudder to think of the loss I would have experienced without your fellowship, encouragement, example, challenge, and display of Christ's amazing goodness during these last 19 years. As soon as I finish this sentence, I will literally descend to my knees to give thanks once again for the gift you are to my heart. "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:3-5).
I thought of mercy, and of the Psalmist's chorus of remembrance that concludes all 26 verses of Psalm 136: "His mercy endureth forever!" How true this must be, first, because it is the Word of God, and then, because the Lord has been so mercifully patient and forgiving to me, His problem child. How much further down the path of righteousness I should be by now, so much further. But all along the way, our Father has met me with mercy. He must indeed delight in it, as the prophet declared (Micah 7:18). How I have needed it, and continue to rejoice that "His mercy endureth forever!"
Finally, and most importantly, I rejoice in the greatest gift of all bestowed upon us when we were born again. "I will dwell in them… In Thy presence is fullness of joy. At Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore" (II Corinthians 6:16; Psalm 16:11). God gives Himself to those who trust in the Lord Jesus. He indwells our spirits to the degree we are in Christ, and Christ is in us. We were made for this, and redeemed for this. Our Lord loves us so dearly that He desired to draw as close as possible, into the very epicenter of our being. Therein He abides as the Life of our lives, the peace of our spirits, the joy of our hearts, and the Love that illuminates God's cherishing of His children, and our capacity to cherish Him. Long ago - but not really so long it seems - our blessed Lord graced my heart with Himself. Of all the loss, the horror of loss, that came to mind yesterday when thinking what my life would have been without that day so long ago, the thought of existence without the Lord overwhelmed me with the coldest of shudders. But it also filled my heart with the warmest of joys. God has graced me to live most of my earthly life with His Son as the Life of my life. All of the gifts mentioned are somehow the very heart of Christ given to my heart as the completely undeserved bestowal of His lovingkindness. I must now return to my knees, and I close with the Apostle Paul's exultation of doxology ringing in my heart…
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus through all ages, world without end, Amen!"
Weekly Memory Verse
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.