This morning I have a hacking cough that I decided would be a distraction to my fellow church goers, so I stayed home to do church on the internet like a real millennial. Usually I listen to the sermons from Apex Community Church, a church I attended for a time in college, but this morning I remembered that JS Park posted a sermon of his on his blog the other day. I loved Park’s book about David – which is on sale and totally changed my feelings about David (and myself and God) – and I love his posts so I feel it is safe to assume I will appreciate his preaching. But of course, he posted that sermon a couple of days ago so I had to read all of his recent posts first.
The other day he shared this –
If you’ve messed up on God today —
He’s still rooting for you. He still wants to work on this together. He will receive you the very second after you mess it up. Your moment of defeat matters less than the moment right after. He has grace to pick you up, to dust you off, to keep you moving towards Him. Choose grace.
This truth is still one of the hardest for me to believe. I used to punish myself – go a day or two days or three days without praying or reading my Bible after messing up “big time” (in my mind) because I didn’t believe I deserved to go to God after sinning against Him so badly. He has been working on my wrong thinking for years. I never, ever deserve to go before God on my own. Ever. No matter how “good” I’ve been. But because of Jesus, like Park said, the second after I spit in His face and punch Him in the gut and choose my own way, the SECOND after that, I can go right to Him humbly confessing because He knew I was going to mess up in that particular way and He still died on the cross and hunted me down and won me.
God first started to get this idea across to me when I started studying the command “do not fear” in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 12 Samuel is talking to the Israelites after they have begged for a king, even though God told them it was a bad idea, and then once they get a king they realize that it was a bad idea and so they are like, “Pray for us, Samuel! We messed up!” And he says, “Darn straight, you messed up! But press on, friends. Move forward toward the Lord. Don’t give up on Him. He will not give up on you. ‘Because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.'” (v. 19-22)
I mean! The people said, “We want this.” God said, “Don’t do that it’s going to be bad.” The people said, “Nah, we’re going to go ahead and do it anyway.” These are the people God is PLEASED to have as His own. These are the people He WANTS. Which is great news for us because these are the people like us. How many times have we done something knowing full well it was going to turn out poorly? How many times have I said straight to God, “Listen, I know you said do it this way, but I think this way is going to be better,” as if I know more than Him?
But in spite of all of my crap, God is waiting, like the father of the prodigal son, with open arms. He is not nearly as concerned with our past as He is with our future. Yes, we need to acknowledge that we messed up. Yes, we need to ask for forgiveness. Yes, we need to accept that forgiveness which is sure and steady and faithful. Yes, we need to repent – which means STOP doing that sin! and turn toward the better things He has planned for us.
No, we do not need to dwell on our mistakes. No, we do not wallow in our shame and self pity and guilt. No, we do not undo the work of the cross with one or two or one thousand sins. No, we do not give up because we messed up. We focus in with tunnel vision on the cross and the person of Jesus Christ. We choose life every single day and in every moment. And when we don’t choose life, we ask for and accept His forgiveness and we choose life the next time.
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself… Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” – 1 Samuel 12:19-22, 24