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My Only Hope

I have done a lot of bad things. Before I met Jesus I stole money that wasn’t mine, told lies, and ran away from home. I cheated, criticized good people, and broke promises. I took illegal drugs and coveted things that weren’t mine. And, along the way I’ve probably made more than a few enemies. If anyone knows that he or she does not deserve heaven, it is me. Even since meeting Jesus, I have committed sins that make me unworthy of face-time with God and fellowship with the saints.

In light of the above why do I go to church, pay tithe and read my Bible. If I spend the rest of my life just doing good I’ll never be able to undo all of the bad that I’ve done. I’m a marked man. I’ve got a huge target on my chest that reads “dead meat,” and plenty of times I’m reminded of the fact that there is nothing I can do to save myself from the consequences of being lost.

But I keep hearing this song echoing through my sordid fibers–”Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” That seems pretty far fetched; that I could somehow be saved in spite of myself.

Plenty of well meaning church members tell me the song doesn’t really mean what it says. They say, “What it really means is that you can be saved if you stop being wretched.” The only thing “amazing” about that would be if I could actually do it. I cannot stop being wretched! That’s why I am wretched!

I am not guilty of committing sinful acts as much as I am guilty of being a sinful person–which means I can never be good enough to be saved. But I keep hanging on to those scripture passages that proclaim the radical notion that God’s offer of salvation is in no way tied to my good deeds or misdeeds. This is my only hope.

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’” (Romans 4:1-3). NASB

Evidently the only action required of me is that I accept this unbelievable gift. From there God takes over, and over time transforms me into his image. In other words my salvation is all God’s doing! Now that is amazing! Why would I ignore that kind of love?

“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:5). NKJV

My church attendance, tithe paying and Bible reading in no way entitles me to receive God’s grace. Such manifestations are merely evidence that I have heard his call. Make no mistake, I’m not pursuing religion, or even trying to be a good church member as much as I am chasing after the only one who has ever loved me unconditionally. He is my only hope!

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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