A few days ago, while driving home from an ice cream date with my wife, Tenth Avenue North’s song “Oh My Dear” began to play on our car stereo. If you have never heard to the song before, I’d encourage you to listen to it.
The songwriter recalls a difficult time when his future wife, with tear-filled eyes and a trembling voice, confessed past sins to him that had previously been kept hidden. He sings,
You slowly lifted your head from your hands
You said, “I just don’t think that you’ll understand,
You’ll never look at me that way again if you knew what I did.”
And so your tears fell and melted the snow
You told me secrets nobody had known
But I never loved you more even though now I knew what you did
The song’s refrain powerfully captures this husband’s tender response:
Oh, my dear I’ll wait for you
Grace tonight will pull us through
Until the tears have left your eyes
Until the fears can sleep at night
Until the demons that you’re scared of disappear inside
Until this guilt begins to crack and the weight falls from your back
Oh, my dear I’ll keep you in my arms tonight
I must confess that as I listened to the song, tears came to my eyes. I was quickly overwhelmed by the sublime power of the story. A vivid, almost ineffable, feeling of wonder came upon me. However, this sudden swell of emotion was not due to the fact that I can directly relate to the songwriter’s experience; my lovely wife, by God’s grace, has never confessed any serious past sins to me, and I don’t think she ever will. Simply put, empathy was not the driving factor in my emotion.
Rather, what stirred my affections so powerfully was the delicate and humble display of grace from a loving husband to his hurting wife. It was the resplendent manifestation of kindness, mercy, and forgiveness…in the midst of sin. As the sound filled my ears, I was truly awed by this powerful expression of tender, sin-covering love. My first thought was, “Wow. That’s true love. I want to love my wife like that.” The words “beautiful” and “glorious” resounded repeatedly in my mind.
However, as my wife and I sat together, hand in hand, my thoughts quickly shifted away from us. I began to understand the sense of awe that I was feeling. I realized that the beauty that had captivated my attention and affections was actually a reflection of something greater…something more beautiful, something more glorious. And then John Piper’s words burst into my mind, like a sunrise in the mountains, lighting up the majestic splendor all around me:
The apex of the glory of Christ is the glory of his grace—treating people infinitely better than they deserve—giving himself for the everlasting joy of the worst of sinners who will have him as their highest Treasure…
At the all-important pivot of human history, the worst sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace…
In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God. Precisely in putting Christ to death, they put his glory on display—the very glory that they aimed to destroy. The apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ. The glory of grace. (Spectacular Sins, pp. 11-12)
The thing that stopped me in my tracks, that grabbed my affections and wouldn’t let go, was the glory of grace.
I realized that the gracious love of this husband toward his wife was a dim reflection of the greatest display of gracious love in all of cosmic history – the cross of Jesus Christ. The song was a signpost, directing my longing heart on to the more brilliant Grace – God-incarnate, sacrificed for sinners.
“In love [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…” – Ephesians 1:4b-8
God, thank you for this simple song, for it has helped me to understand, if only a little more deeply, the incomparable apex of your infinite glory: the glory of your grace.