Like it or not, we are spiritual beings. There is something within each person that makes us far more complex than animate, carbonic creatures that eat, drink, reproduce, live, and die. There’s something that gives us depth, inner beauty, and character. That’s spirit. The interesting thing about spirit, unlike other traits like eye color or height, is that it’s in constant flux. There are days where it feels full and energized and there are days when it feels empty and exhausted. I’d be willing to bet that you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Today my spirit feels exhausted, tired, and worn out. I look around and see the turmoil and strife that characterizes this world. I sense the pain and hardship and feel grief. I’m keenly aware of my own limitations to do anything about it and the fact that I’m a bad, bent, and broken individual. In a metaphorical sense, I sit here in a pile of ashes covered in my flithy rags watching the world burn along with everyone else. Yet in the midst of this exhaustion, I’m struck by the words of John Newton, an 18th century clergyman you might know for writing the hymn, Amazing Grace.
In a letter known as You Would Pity Me, Indeed, Newton writes this:
In short, I am a riddle to myself—a heap of inconsistency!
Alas! when shall it be otherwise? I have a desire of walking with God—but I cannot attain unto it. Surely it is far better to depart, and to be with Jesus Christ—than to live here up to the ears in sin and temptation!
But, “We have an Advocate with the Father.” Here my hope revives! Though wretched in myself—I am complete in Him! He is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. On this “Rock” I build—for time and eternity!
If you read the letter in its entirety you’ll see a man overwhelmed by the depravity that surrounded him AND a man who recognized that he was no better in the midst of it. What I find most moving is this: “Though wretched in myself—I am complete in him.” That completeness is something our spirit craves. Each person can deny it all they want but at the end of the day, we all know that there is something in our spirits that is missing. Until we each find it, none of us are complete. I’ll finish on that thought, if nothing else, I hope you find Newton’s words to be an encouragement like I have.