There are many ways in which my own experience of God’s grace and his good providence compel me to adopt the language used by Job’s messenger as my own.
Looking back to the day of my birth, had not the Lord God preserved me from my mother’s womb, I would have surely perished. Many did in those days. But he who formed me in the belly loved me. Before I came forth from my mother’s womb, he sanctified me and ordained me as his messenger to you (Jeremiah 1:5). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
My childhood, like yours, was filled with perils and dangers, in which multitudes dropped all around me. Many with whom I attended school are in hell today, others are in prison; and I would certainly have been in one or the other, had it not been for the fact that God spared me. He preserved me by his boundless, free grace and distinguishing mercy. — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
When, as a youth I lived at the edge of hell, playing with death, with my fists clinched, shaking them in my ever-gracious God’s face, courting his wrath every day, flirting with hell every night, the only reason I did not perish in the way I chose is the fact that I was “preserved for Jesus Christ” from eternity (Jude 1). Nothing else can satisfactorily explain why my actions did not result in my death. — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
Oh the wonders of God’s distinguishing love toward me as the highly favored object of his mercy, by which he hedged me about and kept me (Hosea 1:6), when I had no awareness of his love for me, when I was utterly unconscious of the fact that he was watching over me and performing all things for me (Psalm 57:2), preserving me unto the day that he would call me by his grace! Hawker asked with astonishment, “Who shall count the sum of distinguishing mercy, in preserving and upholding providences, during the whole of an unconverted state?”— “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
Then, after he called me by his grace, giving me life and faith, salvation and forgiveness in Christ, how magnificently he has continued to uphold and preserve me from all evil, sparing my life in the midst of one sickness and then another! Why has he spared me? Why do I still reside in this tabernacle? I am convinced that there is no other reason but this: — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
All around me I see multitudes dying and dead in trespasses and sins, unawakened, unconcerned, unregenerated. I understand, (O Spirit of God remind me constantly!), that I have been spared, that I live to “declare the works of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” God give me grace to proclaim with earnestness the glorious gospel of his dear Son. To tell all who can be reached by my voice, and pen, and influence of the wonders of redeeming love. — “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (Psalms 66:16). — “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
By Don Fortner in Grace Bulletin August 3, 2008