That’s a profound title, don’t you think? A week seems so short, but how short is life: a vapor, fleeting, temporal.
There is an event that takes place every year on this weekend in August in Gatlinburg, TN. Many of the top teir Southern Gospel artists from around the U.S. gather together for this wonderful time of singing and exalting the Lord. This year, even as I stand in the midst of the Gatlinburg Gathering, as it is called, this event has touched me deeper than any year previous.
It all started on night 2 of The Gathering, when I truly felt God’s presence deep within my heart. Not that the first night did not contain the essence of worship and the presence of God himself, but I was unable to attend very much of the first. It was not until the second night that my family sang.
Singing is the surest way to kindle my fire of faith and light the embers of passion within my soul. On the second night, a preacher by the name of Johnny Hunt spoke on the love of God. This message inspired me to write a post about an underlying theme that he never actually addressed, but I saw it clearly as he moved through his message. So, here is what I heard.
Propitiation: to atone. The absorption of the wrath of God.
When Christ died upon the cross, he absorbed the wrath of God against men. It is said that without grace, when man sinned he would immediately be consumed by the living fire of the wrath of God.
Without atonement, the sacrificing of innocent blood for the guilty, we would be destroyed by heavenly fire. Just like the first sin of Adam and Eve required a sacrifice of blood that God would pass over them and not strike them down because of their dissobedience, we needed a sacrifice to be made for us.
From the first sin, to the levitical laws of sacrifice which appeased the righteous wrath of God, through the Old Testament we see sacrifice of the innocent to atone for the sins of man that God’s wrath would pass over him. Even in the Hebrew captivity in Goshen to the Egyptians when God brought the plaque of death to the land, the blood of a lamb on the door posts of homes appeased God’s wrath against the Hebrews and he passed over them.
All of these events led to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate giving His life as the penance for our sin. On the cross, Christ absorbed the wrath of God and marked the hearts of men in inocent blood, that God would pass over them and not slay them.
I had never fully realized the nessecity of sacrifice until this message; it occurred to me that our sin is constantly angering a holy God. The only thing preventing us from being destroyed from the face of the earth is the blood of Jesus that covers us, and every sin we commit is now plunged into that blood and gone forever.
I later shared a meal with two of the event’s band members and friends of mine Stone Carter and Matthew Gooch. The time of fellowship we can have, in the midst of this praise is not a distraction. God strengthens the hearts and spirits of His children when they commune together.
It’s interesting that God orchestrates even our seemingly meaningless conversations with brothers and sisters in Christ to a common purpose when we focus on Him. This event has been drowned in prayer and worship; it’s focal point has been God from start to finish. When God’s children look to Him, He proves His power, He Reveals His Righteousness, and He Gives His Grace freely.
This is my life. This is what I live for. Praise is perfected in humble hearts and surrendered souls.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist