One thing’s for sure – I’ve got plenty of time to work on this week’s article, but I’ll tell you more about that in a minute. First I want to talk about a hymn. No, I’m not going to sing it but if, after discussing it for a few minutes, you find yourself humming the old familiar tune – be my guest. In fact, it’ll probably go a long way toward helping you understand the point I’m trying to make.
Turn in your hymnal to page 112. We’ll start with the first verse of "At the Cross.” (Note: I’m using an old 1940 edition of the Broadman Hymnal. You may have a different song book altogether. If so then you’ll have to look up the title in the Index in order to find the page number.) Everybody ready? Let’s begin:
Alas and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sov’reign die,
Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away.
It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day.
Here’s the deal. If you are reading from a newer hymnal, one that was published after about 1970 or so, your version probably says, "Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?” Incorrect grammar aside, I wonder why they changed the wording. True, the concept is pretty much the same. I mean, it’s not as if they replaced it with "for sky divers such as I” or "for pastry chefs such as I”. Still, it’s obvious that somebody in the editorial department didn’t take too kindly to being likened to a lowly, creeping vermin and decided that the word "sinner” somehow commanded more respect. Personally I think they should have left it the way it was, "for such as worm as I”, because frankly there are times (like last Friday) when that’s exactly what I feel like.
I told you I’d get back to the reason why I have plenty of time to work on this article and here it is. I’m stuck at home while my car is being repaired following a fender-bender. Thankfully no one was hurt, and even more thankfully we’ve got good insurance. I’m not going to spend a lot of time explaining what happened, except to say that I now know it’s not a good idea to use two lanes for a left-hand turn when the signs only designate one lane for a left-hand turn.
Of course, they say that when accidents like this occur, the one thing you should never do is jump out of your car and exclaim, "Oh, I’m so sorry! This was all my fault!” but in this case it happened to be true. I was totally to blame and I knew it. I also made sure the other driver knew it too. But here’s the odd part about it. Despite the time, stress and inconvenience my obvious error in judgment had caused her, she could not have been nicer at the scene. In fact, she went out of her way to make me feel better! What’s more, despite the time, stress, inconvenience and increased premiums I had caused my husband, his only concern was that I was alright. Well, okay I’ll admit that later that evening I got a Ricky Ricardo-style lecture – "Loooocy, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do” – but believe me when I tell you there was much more relief in Marc’s voice than consternation. And then, bless his heart, he told me again how much he loved me, even though at the moment I hardly felt deserving of that love.
And isn’t that the way it is with God too? At the very moment when we’ve done the awfulest thing or when we feel the most unworthy, that’s when He can be the most reassuring – which brings me back to the hymn. You see, I’ve been focusing so much on the part about being a lowly, creeping vermin that I’m missing the whole point of the song. It isn’t about the worm. It’s about the grace. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” For the very life of me I can’t figure out why He would do such a thing, but you can bet that this guilty little worm is eternally grateful that He did.