O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Romans 7:24-25
I remember when I first read this verse. It’s clear with in my mind, like it just happened. It was more forceful than a ton of bricks (I imagine a ton of bricks has quite a bit of force). I had read Romans before but it didn’t stick out, until this time. I’m not sure what was happening in my life which made it seem so very apparent that this verse was my perfect adjective, all I remember is reading and weeping.
Things haven’t changed much since then, I still read it and still tears come to my eyes. While teaching and the opportunity comes to quote it I must muster my courage and fight back the onslaught of tears. When walking to class and it is brought so clearly into focus within my minds eye I must slow my gate and focus on where I am so as not show up to class with red eyes.
Indeed it is my perfect adjective. Though I am a whore Jeremiah or Hosea don’t compare, though the Gospel is all I teach 2 Corinthians 5:21 doesn’t cut it, though I quote it often Isaiah 48:9-11 isn’t about me. Romans 7:24-25: if there were a dictionary about verses my face would be next to this one.
After three years of signing off letters, e-mails, and Facebook messages with it I still remember its meaning and still feel its weightiness. I hope this never changes, I hope I’m always a wretch in need of deliverance; I hope this body of death always surrounds me and reminds me of who delivers me; I hope I always give thanks to God through Jesus. I hope when I despair and sadness fills the sky from horizon to horizon I recognize I’ve been delivered because God has done it through Jesus.
So until my time comes for God to call me home the banner, which will fly above my heart, is this: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And once I’m home I’ll lay this banner at his feet and by his grace say, ‘Here is who I am thanks to you. Delivered.’ Only then will the wretchedness fall from this body of death and only then will I obtain a body of life and only then will this verse no longer be my perfect adjective.