My third child, Caroline, resembles a Norman Rockwell-esque little girl, with her sweet blue eyes and bob of blonde hair tied in a white bow. She is usually shy and quiet and joyful. One summer weekend we were out at the lake with another family, and obedient Caroline calmly observed the other children as they played wildly all day. She sat and ate her lunch quietly and sweetly, smiling up at us when we asked her if she was having fun.
Later in the day, some geese came over to where she was playing. They were loud and intruding on her little space. So she turned around in front of the family that had admired her sweet disposition all day and screamed at the top of her lungs, “SHUT UP, YOU DUMB GEESE!”
We all have our issues. Most of us just wear a cute bob or smile to cover them up. We’re never as sweet as we appear.
I’ve found it almost impossible to smoosh what I know and believe about God into the invisible dark spaces in my soul. For instance, I know I must forgive. But when my husband misunderstands me or my kids frustrate me and I find myself spinning with anger, how do I apply forgiveness in that moment? I pray that you will find in God’s Word what I found: a chance for God to change me as I see more of Him.
There is a tension that we feel. Most of us know we are stuck and imperfect, broken. But focusing on the reality of our brokenness usually brings about one of two disconcerting responses: We either run to the dark place of rebellion or to the seemingly safe place of covering it up. Shame follows us to both places.
But to admit our stuck places, our sin, propels us out of shame and toward our need for Christ. Both rebellion and self-righteousness are simply attempts to cover reality. We don’t measure up. We are a mess. We are imperfect. But to freely state the facts:
I feel jealous. I feel insecure. I feel prideful and judgmental. I don’t live like I need God. I feel rage when my kids wake me up in the middle of the night or when my husband comes home late from work. I worry all the time.
To be known and accepted are the two most fundamental needs a human has. But we often sacrifice truly being known for covering the stuff that makes us seem weak or unlovable.
How can we be sure we will survive something so vulnerable as freely revealing our sin?
There is another place to turn with our sin; a place that is mysterious and invisible. In this place is the One who offers the mercy we need. It fights against our nature to turn to this place, because it pains us to be dependent.
Christ. Christ saved me from my sin eternally…but could He daily save me from it, too?
The plan was that He would die. The Son of God would die, paying for the sins of the world. And then in the greatest miracle in history, Christ would be resurrected to life forever, defeating death and giving us the most beautiful hope. Anyone who put their faith in Him would be forgiven. Their sin would be paid for and thrown as far as the east is from the west. It would be a final act making us forever right with our perfect God.
And for those who have put their hope in Christ, that is our reality. However, sin has not left me. I believe in Christ and know that my sin has been forgiven, but I also stand here holding arms full of it. I know I have been made right for eternity. But what about today? What about my short time left on this planet?
How can the gospel bleed into my struggle with fear, with jealousy, with anger?
To paraphrase my favorite quote from pastor and author A.W. Tozer, “As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.”