10 - Amazing Grace (v)

Romans, it was, as with St Augustine, Luther and Wesley, and so many others, Romans that did it; that, and Kipling. Reading ‘the gods of the copybook headings’, one of this blogs favourite poems, R alighted on the word ‘the wages of sin is death’. He knew, then, that he only had to look up and turn his face to God and confess Christ as his Saviour, and he would be saved; these things he did, and his life was transformed. He was made a new creation in God. What had been hidden from him was now no longer hidden. Christ was Lord of all and R had been saved by His redeeming blood. Nothing was the same. He turned to Scripture and what had not been clear was clear. He knew he must worship God, he needed to find a church. Baptised a Methodist (as I was) he went to the local Methodist Church. He asked whether there were children there, and was told no, but that the Evangelical Alliance Church down the road had lots of them. So he went there. He told his story to one of the Elders, who welcomed him and talked with him for a long time.

One thing R wondered was how he would explain this to his children? His wife (who is a lovely person) was one of those ‘quiet Christians’, firm in her own commitment, but not pressing others, even those she loved. R told his eldest son that he was going to Church, but that the son did not need to go. It was OK, he told his Dad, he’d been a Christian since he was 8; in an Assembly he had come to know God existed, and he was happy to go to Church with Dad and Mum; afterwards he said he didn’t know Church could be such fun.

That was R’s testimony to me, or at least the main parts. It was marvellous to hear. He thanked all here who were so pleased at yesterday’s post, and was buoyed up by their pleasure in his being saved. He particularly mentioned Fr Malcolm’s post on supernatural beings, saying that if, a year ago, someone had told him of such things, he would have been highly sceptical; but now he knew.

So there we have it. R is, as I wrote yesterday, one of the best men I know. He fulfils amply the description of a man with whom one would go tiger shooting. To hear his story was to marvel at God’s ways. R had not been looking for God. He’d been reading Kipling, first ‘If’ and then ‘the gods of the copybook headings’, and God found him, as he has found so many of us, through Paul’s words to the Romans. He knew. Now, as anyone who knows R would tell you, R is not a man given to fanciful thinking. He’s a clear-headed, sceptical and questioning intellectual; you’d have to be a sharp thinking to disagree with R and come out on top. But here he had certainty. He knew he’d been saved, he knew he’d been called, he knew that what the had to do was to give up everything and follow Christ. As it happened, Christ was already there in his family, so there was a greater force at work here than R could have known when he committed his life to Christ; or perhaps, no, there wasn’t, in committing his life to Christ he trusted, and the trust was rewarded tenfold.

For some time, R had been unwell. An illness from long ago shadowed his footsteps, and latterly had given him a hard time. As is his way, he had borne it manfully. But in coming to Christ, he found the shadow lifted. This was unlooked for, but then the whole experience was unlooked for. He had not been looking for Jesus, but all this while Jesus had been looking for him. The how and the timing of his conversion are part of the deep mystery of God’s Grace. But I heard his testimony, and it lifted my heart and brought me close to tears. God be praised, for He has brought home another of the lost sheep. Where, in this, I perhaps hear the question, is confessional allegiance? To which my only answer is that God will do as He pleases. If we did not understand, then God is not accountable to us, and we can only marvel at such love. Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me – I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.

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