Child of Hell

8/03/2012

20120803 Devotional Image

Last Sunday we sang the old hymn “The Comforter Has Come.” I had never heard it before but since the bass line was pretty simple, I sang along as best I could. The text, which fit the service perfectly, is inspired by John 14:16 and appears below:

1. O spread the tidings ’round wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

Refrain:
The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, the Father’s promise giv’n;
O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found—-
The Comforter has come!

2. The long, long night is past, the morning breaks at last,
And hushed the dreadful wail and fury of the blast,
As o’er the golden hills the day advances fast!
The Comforter has come! (Refrain)

3. Lo, the great King of kings with healing in His wings,
To every captive soul a full deliv'rance brings;
And through the vacant cells the song of triumph rings;
The Comforter has come! (Refrain)

4. O boundless love divine! How shall this tongue of mine
Towond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine—-
That I, a child of hell, should in His image shine!
The Comforter has come! (Refrain)

As we sang through it, the joy of proclaiming the Holy Spirit as something more than a mysterious ghost or vapor was evident. “Good deal,” I thought, especially since last week I had a visitor who directed me to the first few verses of Acts 19. It was beginning to look like God had something to say to me about His Holy Spirit and I was all ears.

But then the phrase “that I, a child of hell” came along and it sort of took me back a little. After all, we usually sing about being God’s child, not Satan’s, don’t we?

As an adoptee, I understand very well the dynamic of being created by someone but raised by someone else. When asked, “Who are your parents?” I’ve always answered “Fred and Dorothy Rice.” They didn’t create me but they raised me. I turned to them when I was lost or scared or alone and I rejoiced with them when I was happy. And ultimately that’s why I’ve always considered them my parents—not because my re-issued birth certificate says that they are.

By this definition, I don’t think it’s a stretch to identify ourselves—however briefly—as “children of Hell.” There is that which is of God and then there is everything else. Satan laid claim to the world long ago. Yes, we have victory in Christ, but the Bible shows us in Matthew 4 that Satan the Slumlord holds the lease to the temporary living quarters in which we reside. It must be true, because  how could he offer cities and kingships that didn’t belong to him?

Who is raising you today? To whom do you turn for acknowledgement, advice and concerns? The Bible says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24). Sadly, like confused pee-wee football players with ill-fitting helmets, we tend to take the football and run toward the wrong end zone most of the time.We’re like the kid who follows a pair of legs at the mall for a while…only to look up and discover to her horror that they don’t belong to her dad!

Enter grace. The same hymn verse mentions “matchless grace divine”…the grace that allows us to shine in His image even through the waxy build-up of our lives. It’s the same grace that causes the Father to run to His prodigal children and celebrate their return even though they have sinned and fallen short time and time again. Undeserved, amazing, saving grace!

Fellow children of Hell, know that your true inheritance is to spend eternity in the glorious mansion prepared for you in Heaven. Until then, seek daily to be raised in the truth. Because it turns out you can choose your parents after all!

 

 

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