GOD’S GRACE

I have a sister who has been deaf since she was about eighteen months old.  She was able to attend school, graduate, and learn a trade.  She is beautiful and talented in many things.  When she was young she married a man who was part of a family oriented cult which included a self-proclaimed preacher who made up the rules as he went along.  Most of his followers were ignorant and uneducated.  The women in the family were not much more than property and were habitually mistreated, as were the children.  This perpetuated the cycle of abuse and superstition to the next generation.

Eventually, my sister became a victim as well.  Her new husband was not only abusive, but he became a drunk.  Her husband had an unholy hold on her and was able to convince her to come back to him after each beating. This cult had convinced her that the reason she could not hear was because she was demon-possessed and lacked faith.  They put her through some mumbo-jumbo rituals to exorcise the demon which, of course, accomplished nothing.  She was convinced that they were right and that she lacked faith which was the reason for the demon to have control of her.

In John 9:1-3, we read that Jesus met a man who was blind from birth.  As they went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” I shared this passage with my sister.  I told her that it was not her lack of faith in God that kept her from hearing but His divine will for her life. Just by living a godly life, in spite of what some would see as a handicap, could be a way to glorify God every day.

I read to her the passage in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 where Paul relates that three times he had asked God to remove a thorn in his flesh.  To keep me from becoming conceited because of these great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I pointed out to her that Paul was certainly not lacking in faith and neither was she.

Eventually, my sister was able to get away from her abusive situation and never went back.  As a single mother, she was able to raise her two daughters and helped raise two of her grandchildren.  She is a beautiful woman who has a sweet and loving spirit who just happens to be deaf.  God is truly faithful to His word and can be trusted in all things.  When we trust Him, His grace is truly enough to see us through whatever this world throws our way.

 

 

THERE ARE NO SNOW DAYS IN CHRIST’S SERVICE

Charles Spurgeon is know today as the prince of preachers. His celebrated ministry at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle literally touched the lives of thousands of people. It was as good an example of the exposition and exhibition of God’s grace as is to be found in all of English history. Still, the story of Spurgeon’s own discovery of grace is little know.

As a sensitive lad, the young Spurgeon found himself in the throes of unbearable guilt over his sin against God. From this pitiful personal purgatory, he soon slipped down under a black cloud of debilitating doubt, under which he staggered about not only questioning God’s existence, but the reality of his own existence as well. Out of utter despair, Spurgeon resolved to search out every church in his vicinity in hopes of finding a message of hope for his tormented soul.

In one church after another, he heard the messages of polished preachers. He heard about divine sovereignty, the demands of God’s law and even how to practically apply biblical principles to daily living. Yet, as Spurgeon would later write himself, of what use were such messages “to a poor sinner who wished to know what he must do to be saved?” All I wanted to know, Spurgeon later recalled, “Was how I could get my sins forgiven?”

On January 6, 1850, Spurgeon set out to walk to a church in the center of the city of Colchester. A Sunday morning snowstorm, however, impeded his progress. Unable to proceed any further, he turned aside to attend a little Primitive Methodist Chapel on Artillery Street, not far from Hythe Hill. Once inside, Spurgeon discovered that the snowstorm had prevented the congregation’s minister from getting to the chapel. Consequently, a layman was asked to lead the service and take the minister’s place in the pulpit.

At first, Spurgeon was most unimpressed, describing the layman as “a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort.” Being uneducated, the poor fellow could do little more in the pulpit than repeat his text: “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45:22). According to Spurgeon, the layman just kept hammering away with his text. “Look unto me; I am sweatin′ great drops of blood. Look unto me; I am hangin′ on a cross.”

In conclusion, the layman waxed no more eloquent than he had in the body of his message. He simply explained, “Now lookin′ don’t take a deal of pain. It ain’t liftin′ your foot or your finger; it is just ‛Look’” Suddenly and unexpectedly, in the midst of this poor layman’s crude exposition, a beam of hope shot through Spurgeon’s deep and dark despair.

Light suddenly dawned on Spurgeon’s tormented soul. The salvation for which he had so desperately sought was not to be found as he had suspected. It was not to be found by looking to himself; that is, in anything that he could do. Instead, it was to be found in looking to Christ; that is, in what Christ had done for him that he could have never done for himself!

On that snowy Sunday morning in 1850 the prince of preachers was born (born again) by simply looking to Christ in faith for salvation. “I could have leaped,” Spurgeon exclaimed, “I could have danced; there was no expression, however fanatical, which would been out of keeping with the joy of my spirit at that hour!”

Today, the name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon is known throughout the world. It stands as one of the greatest names in all of Christian history. Yet, the name of the lowly layman used by divine providence to lead the great preacher of grace to the amazing grace of God is lost in time. I’m assured, however, that though forgotten on earth, it is known in Heaven. After all, without the faithfulness of this lowly layman on a snowy Sunday long ago the world may have never know the likes of a Charles Haddon Spurgeon.