miserable failure.

"You bring up religion ALL the time but whenever it comes time to walk the walk,
you are a miserable failure..."

in the naivete of my youth, i took every personal attack, well, personally.  gravely so.  sticks and stones would break my bones and words would literally break my heart.  i let the thoughts and opinions of others define me.  my self worth was based on what everyone thought of me and as a woman who experienced abandonment in the formative years of my life, the one thing i had always longed for was acceptance and approval.  from everyone.  and anyone ....  but you know what they say about pleasing all of the people all of the time... maybe some of the people all of the time?  some of the people some of the time.  that's more realistic.  

the truth is, we don't live to please people.  as Christ-followers, we can't.  "Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant" (Galatians 1:10).  Paul was obviously encouraging them to stand firm in the face of opposition from the world, but all too  often, the words that hurt us the most are the words that come from those we know, from those we love.      

and the overarching truth is simply this: hurt people hurt people.  with actions.  with words.  i have been on both sides of the hurt, at times hurling sticks and stones with words i could never retract and at times, shielding myself from the sticks, the stones and the words of others.  when we are hurt, it is our natural, albeit sinful, human instinct to want retribution for our pain.  and so, we lash out to wound those who hurt us.  with things that are true and untrue, with things that we know - or even hope - will hurt them the most. 

i am still so new at this.  this Christ-following thing.  this daily surrender of my own will to His.  and as i continually grow up into Christ (Ephesians 4:15), i am learning - more with each day - that my happiness, my wholeness, my peace, my very identity is in Christ and Christ alone.  He is all that He says He is - and i am who He says i am.  the thing is: the more i experience the Lord's love for me, the less approval i need from anyone else.  i will hurt people along the way.  i will make horrendous mistakes that i will want to take back.  i will sin.  and repent.  and ask forgiveness.  and yes, at times, i will be the miserable failure.  and so, how could i recoil at truth?  and the more difficult question, how could i respond?  with truth. in love.  and so, the very words that were meant to harm me were used for good as what poured out of me when pricked was the very beauty of the gospel: 
yes - some most days, i am a miserable failure at following Christ.  i get it wrong more than i get it right.... which is why He suffered and bled and ultimately died a horrific death up on the cross.  "He was pierced for our my transgressions, he was crushed for our my  iniquities; the punishment that brought us me peace was upon his, and by his wounds we are I am healed" (Isaiah 53:5). 
the hard truth is that we are all miserable, sinful failures deserving eternal condemnation and separation from God (see Romans 3:23).  Christ died to pay our penalty.  He took upon Himself what  i deserved - yes, the punishment i still deserve.  (see John 3:16)  
And so, for that, I will gladly be a miserable failure at the feet of Christ.  i am so grateful for His grace and that when He looks at me, He chooses not to see the miserable failure that human eyes see, but He sees the righteousness of Christ.  He sees His daughter and He calls me His beloved.
freedom in Christ is the freedom to rest in who He says that you are.  it is freedom from the bondage of caring what others think of you, what others say of you because you know, you really know that who you are is defined by His word - and His sacrifice.  when we get that - really get that - our hearts long to be obedient to Him, we long to live lives that bring honor and glory to Him and it grieves our spirits when we fail.  and yet, in Him, we find the grace - the forgiveness - the strength - to press on (Phil 3:14).

my church is in the midst of it's semi-annual 21 days of prayer.  it is a phenomenal experience and this morning, as i was gathered with a few of my friends in the early morning hours to worship and pray, we stood together before our heavenly father, as His children.  it seems unfathomable.  this love.  this grace.  for a moment, i feel unworthy to stand before His throne, and then i remember that it's because i am.  and that is why Christ came:  to stand in my place - so that when the father looks down on me, He sees the righteousness of His son.  and that is why i stand, unashamed, arms lifted high towards the One who is worthy of my praise.   

"When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne."

Edward Mote


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