Kari Atalla is a musician, singer-songwriter of contemporary Christian / Worship music.
One night when I was five years old, I remember parroting the sinner’s prayer. Beyond the “Dear Jesus,” I remember nothing of the content. For the next nineteen years, I thought that I was saved.
However, as I got older, I realized how much I didn’t like Jesus. I couldn’t understand why people would go to such trouble to please a Man they had never even seen. Besides, while I very carefully acknowledged that He had died and risen again, I kind of figured, “Well, thanks, Jesus. That was really big of You. I don’t really get why You did what You did, but hey, You are God, not me, and if that’s what it takes to get me to heaven and not hell, that’s Your call, not mine. Besides, You made things the way they are, so… um, thanks, again.”
My fragmented understanding of God doesn’t surprise me now. Being a Christian had always seemed like a “Christian jargon” fest of lofty metaphors and catchphrases. I learned very soon how to throw out a buzzword here and there to sound holy. This went on for years, and I only got better at it.
Yes, that golden prayer at five years old opened many doors for me, and I often served as a youth counselor, went on missions trips, and even played piano on the worship team every now and then. Looking back, I am so ashamed that I ever misrepresented the Lord the way that I did as a false convert.
Deep down, I knew that I hated the whole idea of Christianity. Living right earned me brownie points with important people, but secretly, sin was just way more fun, especially when I thought I could justify it. In fact, I would premeditate the justification and then commit the sin, hanging on to the seeming loophole of the license of grace. That made me feel a little guilty, but not enough to make me change. No matter what anyone said, I knew I was a fake, but so far, faking it wasn’t dealing me any blows that I couldn’t handle on my own. I did what God said to do when I felt like it or when I thought it would get me somewhere, but that was it. I used religion for my agenda.
In October of 2007, I reaped the consequences for living as the lord of my own life, and my life actually fell apart. In His sovereign, perfect timing, God also graciously provided the true gospel to me through one of His servants, and at last, I was in a frame of mind to listen. When I heard it, the Lord showed me through Scripture just how wretchedly sinful I was. I wasn’t better than the average Joe, like I had formerly reassured myself. I was wicked, and there was no denying it anymore.
For the first time in my life, I considered the supreme righteousness and justice of God. Going by the Ten Commandments, I knew I came not even close to reaching the impossible standard required to get to heaven, and I confessed my spiritual depravity and bowed, literally and spiritually, on my face before the Lord. I meditated on His utter purity until His matchless perfection shattered one by one every prideful idea of my own merit—yes, even and especially the grace license—as my justification. When I was stripped bare of every buffer of self-righteousness, I finally agreed with God whole-heartedly that I deserved an eternity in hell for my crimes against His infinite holiness.
Fortunately, He didn’t leave me there.
Inundated by His love and mercy, He showed me in Scripture that while I was yet a sinner, it pleased Him to crush His only begotten Son for my iniquity. Only the God-Man Jesus could both satisfy and survive the righteous wrath of the Lord– and He had done for me what I could never do with self-righteous living or even my own death. It was that brokenness of spirit that only He can give, and being broken, only then did I finally die to myself in repentance and appreciate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now, His sacrifice means everything to me. In the words of Paul Washer, I am going to heaven on the merit of Another, the Christ alone.
This time, I KNEW that this was real, for He had changed my heart from mocking Him to loving Him. I was— am– so excited about what Jesus has done for me, trading my sins and weakness for His righteousness and strength. If He were not God, I would not have believed it.
Now, my life’s purpose is to please the Lord. In gratitude for His kindness, forgiveness, and mercy, I live to serve, praise, and worship Him as my Savior and my God— I get it now! I daily joyfully and even tearfully thank Him for the new creation He has made me, the new desires He promised and has given me, and the fruit of His Spirit in my life. My sole aim is to grow in Him, humbly submit to His will, and imitate Christ. Like the psalmist says, may His praise continually be in my mouth, that He would be glorified and that others would believe.
I am eternally grateful for the Lord’s saving grace, for His continued sanctification in my life, and for the opportunity to be in community and fellowship with others who love Him, too.
Kari Coolidge Atalla repented and put her trust in Jesus Christ as her Savior in early October 2007. Having spent years as a false convert, Kari’s former goal in songwriting was merely to compose what she thought would succeed most easily in the industry. Upon her salvation experience, however, her perspective shifted drastically, and she instead focused on saturating her lyrics with solid Scriptural truths.
As a wretched sinner saved by grace, Kari finds no greater hope, strength, and comfort than in the character of God. *Marvelous in Majesty* aims to highlight God’s attributes as reasons to worship Him in song (“You Are Yahweh”) and service (“You Are the Lord”). Finally, like those who encourage her, Kari also encourages her brethren to continue to reach the lost with the truth that saves (“Get ‘Em the Gospel”).
*My First Few Years* strives to give new believers and mature Christians alike fresh rhyme schemes and melodies to praise the Lord. Listeners will enjoy recognizing Bible verses embedded within the lyrics and expressed with refrains not soon forgotten. Also, throughout the album are engaging piano instrumentals and spoken verses that introduce the content of the following song.
Have you asked Jesus into your heart, but He doesn’t seem to stay there? Listen to the message that may clear things up at wretchedradio.com. Click on “Are You Really a Christian?” on the lower right side. It changed me. I hope it changes you.