“Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bid’st me come to thee, oh lamb of God I come. I come!”
To many, these words are just lyrics to a song that they are forced to sing every Sunday at church. And, to some, that is the case. But not to all of us. Sure, they ARE lyrics, and they ARE sung quite often in many churches around the world on a weekly basis. But have you ever stopped to just think about what these words mean?
We’ve all heard the story of the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. We know all about the “greatest story ever told.” These words.. these few simple lyrics, put the reason for Christ’s Passion into perspective if you stop and think about them. You see, if you’re like me (and trust me, unless you’re the pope, you probably are), you’re full of sin.. thoughts that go against your Christian nature, sudden moments where you want to throw up a finger and cuss at the guy who just cut you off in traffic because he was too busy talking on his phone instead of paying attention. You have moments where that pesky little “devil on your shoulder” gets the best of you and you do things that really shouldn’t be in character for you. But, you’re human. God knows this. Christ knows this.
That’s the point of Christ’s atonement.. he didn’t come for the righteous, the sinless, or the godly. He came for the sinner. He came for the lowest of the low. He came for you and I. Just as we are. Without a single plea, without a hope, without a chance. He washed it all away with one simple act. Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly simple. After all, he cried out to God to “allow this cup to pass from me” (please, don’t let me go through all of this torture and humiliation and death stuff). But he finished it off with “but they will be done.” He acknowledged that it was God’s will that we all have a chance at redemption, and knew that there was no other way that we could ever stand in God’s presence, save the precious cleansing blood shed upon that old, rugged, worn cross. He accepted his role and went through it willingly.
Just as I am.. take me and mold me, God. Just as I am.. accept me as your own. Just as I am.. without a single hope except for your blood, the shedding of which made a pathway for me to come to you.
God wants us all to accept the precious gift of His son’s sacrifice. That was the whole point. He wants us to be with him when we finally “shed our mortal coils” and take our final, one-way journey into the afterlife. But without Christ, that can’t happen. You see, God, the Father, is sinless. He’s spotless, without blemish. And sin cannot exist in his midst. Well, sure, you say. But if you think about it, and realize that we are full of sin… where does that leave us when we die? If we aren’t in God’s presence, there’s only one other place for us… a place of constant, eternal torment the likes of no mere man has ever experienced.
If I seem to be just rambling, I’m sorry. There’s a point to this point, I promise. And it’s this:
A year ago today I lost my closest and dearest friend. He and I went back years upon countless years, shared every stupid little secret, every lame joke. When something went wrong, one would pick up the phone and call the other, just to talk it out and feel better, no matter the time of day or night. When I got separated from my ex and began the divorce process, he was the one I’d call in the middle of the night when I was depressed, couldn’t sleep, and, out of desperation and fear, was considering swallowing a bottle of pills. Sure, we had our fights. What friends don’t? But we always found a way to make up and joke about how stupid the fight was. When it came down to it, we had each other’s backs.
And then, a year ago. I received a phone call from his telephone number. I didn’t answer the phone because I just didn’t feel like talking at the moment. I’d call him back later, I told myself. I laid the phone on the desk beside my bed and went back to whatever movie I happened to be watching at the time. I quickly forgot about the phone call.
A few hours passed by and I finally grabbed the phone to see that there was a voicemail waiting for me. I dialed my voicemail and heard a panicked voice on the other end… his girlfriend, saying that I needed to call her back, that it was an emergency. Without even taking time to process the message I dialed his number and when she picked up the other end I heard the words that would make my heart just stop in its tracks. It was his girlfriend, telling me that my best friend, my compadre, had passed away. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t breathe. “No, this isn’t happening,” I kept telling myself. I hung up the phone and collapsed in the middle of the backyard and cried until I just couldn’t anymore.
I went through the normal stages of grief, like pretty much everyone else. When my initial grieving process was done (do you ever completely stop grieving?) reality set in. It suddenly hit me. All those years that I listened to Don as he morphed from a solid believer in Christ, to agnostic, and finally to believing aliens were everywhere and, for the most part, disavowing the existence of a supreme being other than some other race out there somewhere in the cosmos, had been leading to this point. For now, I knew the harsh, awful truth. Don professed a belief in extraterrestrials as “god,” not the true Savior. According to him, Jesus Christ was a wise man, akin to Buddha, Muhammed, and many others. But he wasn’t, he believed, the son of the one true God who came to take away the sins of the world.
And that could only mean one thing for my best friend…
As I sit here tonight I’m lost in all the memories, all the fun (and not so fun) times. To know that I’ll never get to joke around with him again hurts. But what hurts worse is thinking that God didn’t get to call Don home because Don didn’t accept the sacrifice made on his behalf. And the absolute worst? Knowing that maybe, just maybe, I could have done something to change that. Don was stubborn. He knew what he knew, and you couldn’t tell him otherwise. But I could have tried. I didn’t try. I just silently listened to him ramble about aliens. I even laughed at some of his crazy ideas. But I didn’t try to convince him of the truth.
We were best friends… but I wasn’t a very good friend.
I’ll never get the chance to change that. I’ll never get the chance to at least try to ensure that his soul was entrusted to our creator. And that’s something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
If you’re reading this, don’t wait. You never know what tomorrow brings if there even is a tomorrow. If you don’t already believe that Jesus Christ suffered and was killed in order for his blood to wash away your sins, I beg you to re-evaluate. Read your bible. Talk to a priest or pastor. Talk to church-going loved ones. And if you DO believe, and you’re not trying to make sure those you truly care about have the salvation that only Christ can offer, please don’t wait. Don’t just assume that one day they’ll get it right.
It’s often said that “It’s never too late.” Trust me… sometimes it is!