Ten years ago this day, the Lord made me a Christian. If God had given me only salvation, and then misery and death the rest of my life, it would have been abundant grace and far more than I deserve.
But He has given me so much more.
That day, ten years ago, I did not know what joy the next decade would hold. He has filled my life with blessings of peace and comfort through His Word and His Spirit. He has been the ballast to my ship in this voyage across the unknown waters. He has been my Rock, my Fortress, my Tower and Strength. He has shown me His glory, riveted my heart to His goodness, and reminded me over and over of His unfailing love in Christ. I love Him, for He has loved me first.
I have learned the power of the Spirit of God working in and through His Church. I have seen sinners set free from their slavery to sin and death. I have seen new believers lash themselves to the salvation of Jesus Christ. I have seen old believers wake up to their God-given privilege and responsibility. I have learned to preach the gospel of the death and resurrection of my risen Savior. I have been taught the doctrines of grace and salvation, and have drunken deep from the wells of the Word of God. I have been given brothers and sisters to love and serve, in whom are all my delight. I have made my church my home away from that Eternal Home, and here the Lord protects me.
My God is good, and does good. His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Yet, on that day, ten years ago, I did not know what pain the next decade would hold. I have sinned too much, and have been discouraged many days by the sins of my flesh. I have made a thousand plans for good and, due to my own weakness, have been ruined in almost every attempt. I have ignored good counsel, failed to seek wisdom, and insisted on my own selfish way — to my great regret. I have had hopes left unfulfilled, prayers denied, and dreams dashed.
I have caught a glimpse of the devastating effects of sin on churches, friends, and families. I have seen good friends succumb to the lies, lusts, and idolatry of the world, who cast aside their salvation as one casts away dung. I have seen good men slandered by bitter men, life swallowed up by death too soon, hope dragged down to the sloughs of despair. Even among the saints, I have seen fear lead to faithlessness, arrogance to apostasy, and willfulness to worldliness. We have not loved You as we ought, O Lord.
The decade has been full. And for all of it, I thank God. Of course, I am thankful for the joys. But I am also thankful for the pains, not so much that they came to pass, but that they are from the Lord. He is sovereign over all, and will bring to pass His perfect will. For to whom else shall we go? He has the words of eternal life. Shall we accept good, and not adversity, from the hand of the living God? Shall we override the all-good, all-knowing, all-wise God and reject the knife that heals, the suffering that sanctifies, and the pain that leads us to find our all in Him? Did not the great hymn writer say:
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev’ry part.
Yea, more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Humbled my heart and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried;
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
He has led me well thus far, and I will not abandon Him. He is my Shepherd and King! How could I not love Him? The cross of Christ is my banner yet; to Him alone I belong. If He gives me another decade of life and breath, I will hold on to this: Heaven, with Him, is closer still.
Thank You, Lord, for a blessed decade. Keep me, and purify me, for yet another to come. Or, better yet, maranatha, Lord. Come and bring Your people Home.