Those were the words of American Christian minister and author, Roy Ratcliff, to the students at York college after having baptized notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in 1994.
Those are the words I remember when I fall to my knees, alone in a dark room, burdened with a heavy load of guilt and shame and fear. Those are the words whispered so tenderly to me when I wrench my heart before my all-knowing God, the One who has been and will be, who has seen and will see.
A year ago, I was struggling with a particular sin, one that I’d dealt with for as long as I could remember, one that would bother me when I was at my weakest, one that’d manifest itself in secret places, one that’d leave me feeling afraid of God, disgusted with the animal I was…one that’d prompt me to run away and hide. So I was Eve in that garden, having devoured the forbidden fruit, now aware of my own nakedness and terribly afraid. I was so tired of my prayers. They were always the same. A thousand promises I’d broken before God…there was no covenant of old. There was no heavenly sign. There was only me, so pitiful and broken and worn. So I lay still, the tears already sliding down my temples into the soft crown of my head. The room was dark, painted with shadows. And I was alone.
Sick. sick. sick. I was sick of myself. of the cycles. of going through the motions in the hopes of purging my guilt. And after prayer I’d probably leave the room, hymns weighing heavy on my lips, nothing really changed. Unbelieving.
But that night… I remember it still so vividly. Laying in the utter dark, I wept. And I felt frustrated and confused and sad so sad so sad.
Music was playing quietly…“I will be still/and know/and know You”
and God opened my eyes to see…and catch the slightest glimpse of Him. He showed me mankind’s sin from the wake of the dawn from the dawn of time to the end of time…the brutality, the envy, and murder…the vast array, the multitude, the mountain peaks and valley lows, and I saw His heart. His grief. His hurt. His love.
“Though the earth give way/though the mountains fall to the sea/though its waters roar”
“I am forever Yours”
“I will be still/and know/and know You are God.”
And after the images had flashed by quickly quickly quickly, after all had passed under the hot white eye of the sun, after He’d seen and known, there was the tender whisper in the dead of night…
I still love you.
And so my quiet weeping became a sort of guttural sobbing as He reminded me again of that grace. His son hanging on a tree, looking at me. His son saying It is finished. So that when I fail and fall short, I can weep freely in the throne room where He sits, white robe trailing…a host of angels singing holy holy holy are You. I can run freely to Him. And I don’t have to hide like Eve did. I don’t have to be afraid. I can sing. I can sing:
“There is no fear
as I look upon You”