Back in 2003 a friend handed me an EP from an up and coming indie band called Dirty on Purpose. I’ll never forget the first time I placed the CD in my Chevy Corsica‘s stereo and was treated to the ethereal vocals of a female singer whose name I did not know (the track was “All My New Friends“).
Several years and one LP later Dirty on Purpose went their separate ways and her voice vanished into obscurity, or at least I thought. After years of thinking she was someone else (I had read the wrong name on the back of their LP which lead to another great find) I’m happy to report that the vocals are the property of one Erika Forster. More than this, they are actually doing quite well in a the Keyboard driven Dream Pop trio Au Revoir Simone (name after a charter in Pee-Wees Big Adventure).
I bring this long story up because of their song “Take me as I am” in which Erika sings as one who is longing for grace from another. Have a listen and see if it invokes the same longing in your heart.
In this song Erika offers us a beautiful picture of the longing that each one of us has: to be met in grace from another. Simply put, to be loved warts and all. Paul Zahl writes:
Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be)… Grace is one-way love (36)
This is precisely what Erika is longing for in “Take me as I Am.” She desires for the other to forget their plans (i.e. weights & measures) and to simply love without condition. To receive this sort of love, is nothing short of life-changing. Zahl continues:
Take an inventory of yourself. Watch other people about whose happiness you care. You will see it over and over: one-way love lifts up. One-way love cures. One-way love transforms. It is the change agent in life. (37)
What’s true horizontally with other people, is true vertically with God. If God were to “Take me as I Am” the ramifications would be mind-blowing. Truth be told, this is the story of the Bible. God takes us as we are:
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Romans 5:6, 8 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…
The message of the Bible and Christianity is simply this: In Jesus Christ God has pursued and loved that which is unlovable. Making it personal, God takes me as I am.
In this way Erika’s Ode to Grace reminds me of a desire and longing that has already been fulfilled in Christ.
PS: It also reminds me of this old hymn as well…
Paul Zahl “Grace in Practice“