God reminded me today of the abundance of grace He has given to me over the years. He pours His grace out everyday. However, there was particular grace given to me over 15 years ago (before I was a believer) that I was reminded of.
I generally have a bad memory of my past (which is another evidence of God's grace to me). However, there is one period of my Jr. High/early High School days that I have particular memory of.
I had a new friend named James. James was new to my school and I have no idea how he came to be one of my friends. James was bad news. I was generally a "good" kid (outwardly). I respected my family, played baseball, avoided fighting, made good grades, and stayed out of trouble. James began to have a negative effect on me. He picked fights, stole from stores, played with guns, and disrespected his dad.
I guess I thought James was cool. I can remember my mom talking to me about what kind of influence James was having on me. I can remember drifting away from many of my childhood friends.
I don't exactly remember what happened, but in High School, God mercifully diverted my attention away from James and onto other things. I moved toward baseball and girlfriends and James moved toward drugs and guns.
The last I had heard, James was in jail for something. I have often thought of finding him and sharing the gospel with him.
Just a few days ago, someone alerted me to a news article regarding James. Evidently, he was stiffed on a drug deal, got mad, and killed a guy. He is blaming it on someone else and his fellow gang members are blaming it on him.
You can see some news stories on the incident here, here, and here.
Interestingly, the same judge that my mother worked for declared a mistrial in the case just last week.
As I read about James and his current legal troubles, these thoughts were pressed upon my heart:
Justin, that could have been and would have been you. If God had not mercifully diverted your affections and goals, you would have been there and you would have pulled that trigger. In your depravity and arrogance, you would have been not just a member but the leader of such a gang. You would have taken more and sold more drugs that anyone. The only reason you are not where James is right now is because God elected you, sought you, redeemed you, and gave you faith in His Son.
I am more grateful than ever for the substitutionary sacrifice of my Savior. He and He alone are the only reason I exist. I don't deserve one ounce of these mercies I enjoy every day.
Take a moment to ponder where you would be if Jesus had not sought you. Be freshly amazed by His grace to you.