A wretch like me.

A few months before the Hillsong album “Beautiful Exchange” was recorded, we started singing a song in church called “Believe”. I loved the song from the beginning. Originally the song had a bridge section in it, and for some reason that is beyond me, in the album version the bridge was removed.

But one night in church we were singing the song, and in the bridge we came to a line that said “Your love is stronger than my shame.” And out of nowhere, God floored me with that line. With that line he spoke to me so powerfully that I had to find a seat, sit down and weep and weep and weep.

With those words the Lord broke through to me; he broke through and arrested my attention, shaking the very depths of my being; he pierced through everything that I ever thought I was, and he showed me my true heart. And it was wretched. It was shameful. It was full of deceit, and malice, and failure, and sin.

And to my heart he said, “I love you,” and I cried, “My God… how can you love me?”

So many times before that day, I sat through alter calls where the preacher would say to the crowd, “Maybe you don’t feel like God could love a person like you after all the bad things you’ve done in your life – but trust me when I say that he loves you and wants to forgive you.” And I would never identify with those people. I thought the preacher was even making stuff up – conceiving of imaginary people with feelings that no-one ever genuinely felt. I didn’t understand why anyone would feel that way because I’d always known that God loves everybody.

But on this night I understood. Until that night I really hadn’t had a deep revelation of the pitiful condition of my heart, of just how desperately I needed mercy. I was confronted with my heart that night and I was devastated and ashamed. For the first time, I genuinely struggled to understand how a good God could love me. How could he love something that is not good?

But I knew he did. Because he told me right there and then. And I was astounded by it. And in some strange way I felt that he was holding me and covering me in that moment; he was so close. And amidst such powerful shame I had never felt more joy, because I knew that his love was stronger than all of it.

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