I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.
We were dead.
The song above, All I have is Christ, was played at Davin’s memorial service and has been going round on the turntable in my mind since then. The song, like the apostle Paul, causes us to reflect on who we were and who we are now because of God’s mercy.
“You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” (Ephesians 2:1-2).
We were dead men walking, every one of us. That thought alone is staggering. There was a time in my life when I was dead, blind, and deaf to God; I had zero hope. I was a journalism and philosophy major at the University of Northern Colorado, in love with my own mind and the world’s ideas. And I was dead, headed for eternal destruction with exuberance.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:4-5).
You know, the more I think about it, what Davin’s story speaks is not primarily that Christianity is a great way to feel good about the meaning of your days or to have some comfort in death. It’s that without Christ, you don’t have life. Jesus didn’t merely give us a new way to live; first, he gave us new life.
“We will never fully appreciate what a deep and awesome thing conversion is until we own up to the fact that it is a miracle. It is a gift of God” (Desiring God, 64).
It’s easy as a Christian to forget the miracle it is for you to even be breathing and awake to God, with a heart to feel and eyes to see the LORD as your joyous treasure, but Davin will not let us forget. As a Christian, he’ll force you to see the absolute wonder that you have been raised from spiritual death and will one day join him and his Lord in total re-creation. This reality never gets tired.
As someone who is presently trampling on this Treasure and walking in death, rejoicing on his way to the gallows, Davin may just be the call to you from a one-time prisoner set free: “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” (Luke 23:40).
When you see your friend die, life and death suddenly become hugely important and weighty. Eternity feels very close. The horror of hell singes the edges of your jeans. The glory of Christ makes your face shine with hope. I think it’s right to just sit before this God-crafted landscape, with all the realities and colors and fragrances of God’s wonderous redemption, and be in awe.
Look at Davin’s story and feel the wonder that God gave him new life, without which he would not be with Jesus now. Stand in awe before the majesty of his glory in the new birth, for Davin and for you.
And as many of us continue to mourn, rightly, may the reality of regeneration give us what the world does not have—a living hope grounded in an empty tomb and a resurrected Jesus. You do not weep as the world, for they have no hope. You weep as travellers separated, but not for long. You weep not as dead men entombed forever as prisoners in chains of sorrow, but as Christ’s children awaiting the return of the King, on the day when all creation will be born again.