Too Far Gone?

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The incredible talent of Russ Taff brought him 6 Grammy’s, countless Dove awards, and the praise of thousands. I loved his music. Walls of Glass, Trumpet of Jesus, and We Will Stand are embedded in my memories. Who knew that the man standing there on the stage, looking like a champion, was full of misery? Who knew of the shame he carried from a childhood of an impossible religion preached to him by a dad who finished up Sunday nights by turning into a mean drunk? Who knew of Russ’ own struggle with alcohol that tore him away from his wife and kids, amplifying the emptiness he felt at the core of his being?

In Russ Taff, I Still Believe, he tells the story – without holding back. It’s gritty, painful, and gripping.  (available on Amazon Prime Video) The turning point was when Russ finally surrendered himself to get the help he needed, when he took the hand of the Jesus he had sung about to millions and let Him heal the wounds of shame, replacing it with grace and love that stilled the voices that insisted he was not enough. He found the love of God. Sound like a cliché? It is an old, old story – told millions of times. Yet, I love to hear it again, not for the awful but for the glory!

In this morning’s email, a friend who I watched spiral down into alcoholism and despair wrote to me about his own healing. Adopted at birth, he always felt a sense of loss. An educated, intelligent man he had what seemed to be all the right stuff. But, his professional life fell apart and his health broke. But, Jesus never forgot him! “I just celebrated a year of sobriety on October 10, 2019.  My Lord has done an amazing work in my life over the past year.  I was alone … much of the time and had few distractions, forcing me to face what I had become, how I got there and to whom I needed to turn.  As I submitted myself to the living Jesus (as opposed to the one I had envisioned through my finite prism), I started praying.”  He went to tell me how he had connected with his birth mother and found out so many things that put the missing pieces in place.

I do not know why I feel so compelled to write this blog this morning, but I know the Spirit is speaking to somebody out there who thinks they are too far gone, who has reached the conclusion that dying is better than life. God has not forgotten your name. The One who knows you best, loves you most.  He is the waiting Father of Jesus’ story (Luke 15) about the Prodigal son. That man who had treated his father terribly and wasted his life thought he could no longer be a son. He tried to go home to make a deal to live with the hired hands.  “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20, NIV)  Your Father in heaven is looking for you!

It’s not easy to turn around. Old habits can die hard. Old ways of coping, through destruction, wrap themselves around us like a tattered old blanket that we resist giving up. But, the Spirit of God is ready to meet us when we are at the end of our rope. Are you ready to come home?

In my favorite book of the Bible, the letter to the Ephesians, in which Paul celebrates the grace of God, there is this passage, our word from the Word. I pray as you read it, it becomes a living Word for you, a moment of hope and transformation through the grace of God.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms—all because we are one with Christ Jesus.

And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus. God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:4-10, NLT)

Surrender! Believe! Receive! Live again!

________

Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand

(Russ Taff sings it like nobody can)

Time is filled with swift transition
Naught of earth unmoved can stand
Build your hopes on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

 Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Build your hopes on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

 When your journey is completed
If to God you have been true
Fair and bright the home in glory
Your enraptured soul will view

Franklin Lycurgus Eiland | Jennie Wilson © Words: Public Domain

 

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