wretched: (of a person) in a very unhappy or unfortunate state- of poor quality; very bad.
Recently, I was reminded of the story of John Newton, the writer of the hymn Amazing Grace. He had been a ship’s captain in the Royal Navy and eventually a slave ship captain. Through a powerful series of events, God got a hold on his heart and John Newton accepted Christ and later became a priest.
He knew what a wretch looked like. He had watched the slaves he transported in the ship’s cargo in eighteen-inch spaces, bound to the person next to them, next to no sanitation, sick, depressed, scared, worried. John Newton saw this every time he brought another group of slaves to market. In reality, he would have seen it too, every time he looked in a mirror.
John Newton may have been free by the standards of the day, but he was just as bound as wretched as the men and women bound in the hold below. Newton’s bindings were the deplorable conditions of his heart without God.
That is the way it is with all of us. We don’t compare our sins with those around us to find out how bad we are, although many of us do just that. The reality is- our sins are deplorable. Deplorable because they are held up to the righteous holiness standard of God.
When the day comes that we see our wretched hearts through the eyes of God and embrace the blessed, amazing, incredible, indescribable grace that is offered freely to us (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9) we become the beautiful masterpiece God designed us to be (Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10).
Through the mystery of God’s great grace we are finally able to see ourselves as the holy creation God had planned all along. All we have to do is be honest, call out to God, tell Him the truth of our deplorable hearts (He already knows anyway) and ask Him to come in and clear out all the brokenness, junk, and pain we have held onto for far too long.
Just as a caterpillar emerges as a butterfly, we emerge from our dead selves into our vibrant, incredible, grace-filled lives. Beautiful. Whole. Unique. God’s great masterpiece. We are created for so much more than the mundane lives we seem to live. We were created to impact the world, to share the love of Christ with a world in desperate need of Him.
We were created to give hope, a warm meal, a new pair of shoes, a warm blanket, to those who are without. We were created to show the love and grace God has so lavishingly poured out over us.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made and it is time that we stop living in the deplorable wretched state and embrace that incredible Grace.