I’m currently working through a Bible in a year reading plan. For this year, I chose to do a chronological plan, so I’ve been winding my way through the Old Testament. Let me tell you, the number of stories that start with someone deciding to go rogue and things only getting worse from there. Honestly, there’s no good way around it. Most of the people in the Old Testament are just a mess.
The more I’ve read in this start to finish order, the more I was starting to feel the weight of how often humanity gets everything so hopelessly, completely, cruelly wrong. And not exactly for good reasons either. The final straw recently came when working through the story of David’s life.
I know this story backward and forwards, and yet this time it just all seemed so frustratingly hopeless. Here’s a man who was said to be after God’s own heart and he’s a complete mess who messes up so monumentally time and time again. At which point God had to (lovingly) thump me upside the head and remind me that that’s the whole point.
Being enough through perfect behavior is nothing more than a foolish illusion.
It simply cannot be done. I can read the Old Testament a thousand times and see the hopelessly messy figures and somehow still come to the conclusion that I will be different. I will get it right. I don’t even stop there. I project that onto other people. They would never let me down. They will get it right. And if I’m not careful, I’ll hold people to completely inhuman standards that they could never achieve. Let alone me achieve them myself. I frequently live in a place of being repulsed by misdeeds I partake in myself. We so often hate the worst qualities in someone else not because we’re so pure of heart, but because we are looking in a mirror and not liking at all what we are seeing.
The inescapable truth is that you will do horrible, heinous things that break the hearts of those around you. You probably already have done some of those things. Maybe those things are coming to mind and making you squirm right now. We’re liars, we’re cheats, we’re traitors, we’re cowards, and every other thing that fills us with fear and loathing. That’s the nature of this fallen world and it can’t be escaped by our intentions to be better.
And God wants you still.
Into the doom and gloom of our hopeless standing, God decides we are still worth the trouble. We are still worth saving. That’s the reality that makes my heart shake off the despair of centuries of shortcomings. God still wanted them. David failed. God still wanted him. Moses failed. God still wanted him. Abraham failed. God still wanted him. Avalon failed. God still wants her. You failed. God still wants you. In God’s hands, failure is not a disqualifier. God is not thrown by how many times his creation has let him down.
There is no person so hopelessly lost that God’s love cannot find them.
Not a one. You could spend your whole life running from God, being openly defiant, and he would still want you to choose him at your last breath. Yes, his heart will be grieved tremendously by all your running and wrongdoing, but he will still want you. You could be the only person on this strange planet, and God would still send his Son to rescue you. You, just you, are worth it. Your lack of perfection need not be a factor.
God has an answer for every shortcoming, every stumble, every hurt, every lie, and every misstep we make. None of it is too big for him. If you’re taking all the love he has to offer from his outstretched hand, you are not lost. Darkness may sit heavy on your heart, but it does not get the final word. You are spoken for and nothing is going to change that.
As Paul puts it so finally and thoroughly: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
So yes, the weight of all our missteps will very often sit heavily on us, but not without hope. Like Abraham, Moses, David, and a host of other characters, we are part of a story that’s so much bigger than us. A story that, quite frankly, we’re just not powerful enough to mess up. So take heart, your own shortcomings are a mere blip on the map compared to the sheer glory of the one writing the story. You are not lost.
Let’s find some joy,