As I drove to work this morning, I noticed something surprising about my heart. The usual mad dash as I aspire to move from point A to B was noticeably absent. I traveled at a slower speed. I smiled. I was conscious of the natural beauty around me; the sun beaming through my sun roof; the first blooms of spring waving at me to stop and admire; the feeling of calm. The radio was softly playing. Restful. Peaceful. I was present in the moment. Unknowingly, ready for the unexpected.
The song that began to play was one I'd heard many times. But today, with a calm and fully present heart, I listened with ears to hear.
And the unexpected happened.
The song's primary message urges us to see others as Jesus sees them. But toward the end of the song I heard these words: "Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast. But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at your feet . . ."
As I listened to these words they deeply pierced my heart of flesh, and with stinging clarity I became fully aware of something I already knew and believed.
I was the outcast . . . that lost cause . . . the one enslaved; damaged; the oppressed, poor, and wretched. I was miserable and heartbroken, sad, dejected, and downcast. That was me.
When I found myself at the bottom, He stepped down into my shambled, disfigured, and rancid life and comforted me. My heart and soul were stained, but He overlooked my filth, the dirty and ruined thing I called my life. The stench of my brokenness didn't repel Him, rather, with love and acceptance, He opened wide His arms and fully embraced me.
He desired me when I was undesirable. He pursued me when I ran away. He accepted me when I denied Him. He loved me when I was at my worst. He reached way down and healed me when I was crushed. He restored my brokenness, clothed me with His righteousness, and cleansed my stained soul. He looked beyond my shame, guilt, and regret, and saw one He compassionately and indiscriminately loved, and He called me His friend . . . His own!
I drove the car into the parking lot and turned it off. It was pleasantly warm as I sat quietly and looked out the window.
"Thank you," I whispered, "Thank you for befriending a sinner like me."
And then I was reminded.
"I'm no longer a sinner, I'm His beloved. I'm His!" And then it all made sense. This explains why the flowers are more delightfully beautiful and the sun more warm and inviting. I know what's behind my smile. I have meaning in my calmness. There's a reason for my peace. The rest I experience at this very moment makes sense.
I am beloved of Jesus, who befriends sinners, of whom I once was.
Now that's a reason to smile.