…Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner. Luke 18:13
This was part of the gospel reading this morning in church. It made me think of a conversation I had with one of my patients. We were talking after I had sung the hymn “Amazing Grace” one of their favorite hymns whose opening verse is “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” She said you know I am not sure I am comfortable with calling myself a “wretch.” I told her that I understood and I used to be uncomfortable too because after all I am not a mass murderer, or a slave ship captain like the author of the hymn. But then I reflected that that is only true if I am measuring myself by my or even the world’s standards and scoring myself at least a “B” on good days and maybe even a “C” on bad ones. However, it is God’s standards which say anger in my heart is the same as murder, lustful thoughts the same as adultery. So if I change the scale and stop measuring on the curve I see that I have failed at times to love, I have been angry and wanted revenge, I have hurt others in word or deed, I have certainly failed to “love God with all my heart and mind and soul and strength and my neighbor as myself.” By that standard then I can humbly include myself in the company of “wretched” who have been redeemed and know therefore “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”
I was that hapless wretch
so blind though I thought I could see.
I thought I was better than some I know
because I had my limits of what I would do.
Till you showed me my face in the mirror
and the distortion and darkness I saw
made me weep feeling lost and discouraged
ready to run from you presence once more.
But your tender message of mercy reached
out and halted my retreat.
Your rebukes though they stung also soothed me
and I found myself confessing all to you.
Your forgiveness cleansed and caressed me
and brought healing to my battered soul.
Now I can echo daily with John Newton
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound. “
Diantha Zschoche 10/13