[custom_blockquote style=”eg. green, yellow, purple, blue, red, black, grey”] “I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.”
– John Newton[/custom_blockquote]
I have met Christ – or rather – He has met me, numerous times. In fact, there are probably far more than I even realize, because that’s just how God works, isn’t it? Softly and tenderly, most of the time without us even noticing (especially if you’re like me and prone to focusing on the seen rather than the unseen). I think fondly of the night I trusted Christ with my heart and life at the age of 13 at a Dallas Holm and Praise concert. I came forward for the altar call – it was if I was being drawn by a magnet. I remember tears, relief, bewilderment, excitement. Truthfully, it was somewhat of a blur, but I distinctly remember knowing, without a doubt, that my life would never be the same.
However, one encounter with Jesus will always stand out for me – it was so vivid and powerful I can barely relate it without overwhelming emotion. I do not remember the year, but the occasion was Good Friday. I was singing with our worship team for our church’s worship service, and we had many great songs lined up to lead us into somber reflection on Christ’s suffering and death: ‘O Sacred Head,’ ‘Now Wounded,’ ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,’ ‘Behold the Lamb,’ etc. One fairly new song was a modern hymn by the Gettys: ‘The Power of the Cross.’ We had sung it before and it was becoming a familiar favorite. But this night, Christ would meet me in a way I’d never experienced, even after 20+ years of being a Christian.
We were in the middle of the service when it came time to sing, “The Power of the Cross,” and I was suddenly overcome by the truth of the words in the second verse: “Every bitter thought, every evil deed, crowning your blood-stained brow.” I had sung these words many times, but God’s Spirit planned this moment, in front of the congregation, to convict me of my own sin. I nearly had to stop singing the song, which was not in the plan since we were singing four part harmony. I kept on, but the words echoed in my head. Every bitter thought…Crowning your blood-stained brow. EVERY. BITTER. THOUGHT. I knew exactly what the Spirit was getting at; He had his finger right on my pet sins and all it took was this raw moment to expose it in my mind. The bitterness I harbored every day, the anger at “certain someones,” the festering hatred that I refused to release – these things were like thorns digging into my Savior’s flesh. Every one of them was causing Jesus pain. MY bitter thoughts. Crowning His blood-stained brow. I somehow squeaked out my part through the rest of the song, and then literally burst into sobs at the end. My singing companions thought at first that I was actually having physical trouble of some sort. It took quite a while for me to regain composure, and I remember nothing else of the service, except for two things. I remember not caring at all (amazingly, since up to that point I cared very much) what anyone thought of me, weeping with makeup running down my face and almost hyperventilating. I also remember knowing that something had to change; that, again, my life would not be the same from then on.
The beautiful “rest of the story” is that Christ used this encounter with Him to set me free from a chokehold of sin that I would not have escaped any other way. I was able, by His amazing powerful grace and mercy, to make amends to key people towards whom I’d fostered crippling bitterness and resentment. I could feel more burden lifted off my soul with each liberating conversation, with each intentional confession and request for forgiveness. What I once had thought was something “I could/would never do” became something I couldn’t wait to do, just to experience the freedom and gladness of Christ.
Those that know me know that music is a huge part of my life; it speaks to me often when nothing else will. Jesus knew this that Good Friday when He met me and changed my life once again. I am excited for future encounters with Him, because He promises He will be faithful to complete the good work He has begun in me. What an amazing God – a God that loves us right where we are, but loves us far too much to let us stay there!
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And, fittingly, I will leave you with some powerful lyrics from another great song:
Come ye weary, heavy-laden; lost and ruined by the fall.
If you tarry ‘til you’re better, you will never come at all.
I will arise and go to Jesus; He will embrace me in His arms.
In the arms of my dear Savior, oh, there are ten thousand charms.
~Hymn: “Come Ye Sinners Poor And Needy”
I hope you have been blessed by these encounters. I would love to hear your encounter. You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are loving this series make sure to check out last years lenten series, “40 Encounters With Jesus.” Available in both Paperback and Ebook formats. ~Jen
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