I’m a flawed person. This revelation likely isn’t a surprise to anyone, except maybe my mamma, who happens to think I’m the most amazing woman to ever walk the earth (thanks, Ma!) Like most people, I have many flaws and faults. I’ve said and done things that have left me questioning my own sanity. I’ve unintentionally hurt people by my actions and I’ve disappointed people with some of my choices. And I’ve not only stumbled while journeying with Jesus, I’ve tripped and fallen and rolled down the hill!
While these flaws and repeated failures have taught me valuable lessons, they have also influenced my response to failure. They have influenced the way my mind and heart react when I slip up. More importantly, they’ve influenced the way I respond to God when I fail.
When I first became a follower of Christ, my view of redemption was a little warped. Each time I messed up or slipped up or was just outright stupid, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt; guilt for what I did, guilt that I messed up again and guilt that I let God down. I would internally plead with God to forgive me, afraid that this time He would say no. My view of God was that he would get mad at me and eventually turn His back on me. This view came from experience with people in the past who have walked away from me over something I have said or done. In some instances, people have turned their back when I wasn’t what they wanted or needed. Others have walked away when I wouldn’t affirm behaviour that I didn’t agree with. Most of us can relate to this as most of us have been hurt by people at some point.
We live in a world that gives limited chances and where forgiveness needs to be earned. All you need to do is watch the headlines and see how people get dragged through the mud by the media and the public when they do something wrong. The redemption offered by the world comes with a price tag that few of us can afford. But Jesus offers us something different, He offers us a gift that we can’t earn or buy. He offers us a gift that we just need to accept and receive. What Jesus offers is unconditional love and grace and redemption that can’t be bought or traded in for anything else. He offers a love so deep and wide and gracious that when encountered, brings us to our knees. What He offers us is open arms that are ready to receive us and comfort us when the world falls apart, even when it’s our fault that our world has fallen apart.
The more I’ve journeyed with Jesus and pressed closer to Him, the more I’ve realised that when I mess up I need to run to Him, not from Him. Instead of internally cowering and fearing that He will turn His back on me, I should be bringing it all to Him and telling him what I’ve done. I should be asking for His mercy and grace and guidance, not fearing that I’ve lost His love. The truth is that God is not a man that He would change His mind about us (Numbers 23:19); He has said that He loves us with an everlasting love and nothing can change that, not even our own mistakes.
Like the father that stood a way off watching the horizon waiting for his prodigal son to return (Luke 15:20), God is always watching and waiting for us. Just as the father ran towards his son as soon as he saw him returning, God opens His arms wide as soon as He sees us coming and meets us right where we are. He arms are always opened for us. His heart is always beating for us. He is a loving Father that bends down to comfort us and hold us. He meets us right where we are and helps lead us back to where we need to be. And He forgives us when we sincerely ask for forgiveness.
How do I know all this? Because I have encountered it. Over and over, I have encountered God’s grace and love and forgiveness. Time and time again, when I have run to Him in desperation and pain and sorrow, He has gathered me in His arms and held me and comforted me. Even when it was my own actions that caused the heartache and pain. Especially when it was my fault, because God knows my heart and thoughts and fears.
Does His forgiveness negate any consequences of our actions? No, not at all. There will always be consequences to our actions. But His forgiveness will bring peace and comfort. It will bring healing and grace. Most importantly, it will bring redemption and reconnection to Him. I pray that we all never forget that He is a good, good Father. In everything we do, good or bad, let’s remember to run straight into God’s arms, instead of running away from Him, because His arms will always be open. Always.
Blog posted previously at ACW