I want to do good, but I just can't do it.
If you are the spiritually pompous type, you might want to avoid a counseling session with my friend, Pastor Bill. When you plop down in the chair in his office, you are met by a placard on his desk: YOU'RE NOT HOPELESS. WE CAN ALWAYS USE YOU AS A BAD EXAMPLE.
I'm telling you right now: you're not going to con Pastor Bill by convincing him you are a model Christian.
I've struggled with this for years. I've always wanted to be a godly believer. But when I say my morning prayers my mind wanders all over the map. Same thing when I read the Bible. And, even though I say a daily prayer -- forgiving my enemies, it only takes one memory to rekindle my resentment.
When I give, I'm self-conscious of my generosity, and when I do something really noble, I hope somebody notices my humble, Christ-like action.
We're talking about me at my best; you don't want to know about my laziness, impatience, self-centeredness, gluttony, and pride.
In my younger days I had it all wrong. I was passionate for God, but the harder I tried to be righteous, the more I failed. It's like trying not to think about elephants; the harder you try not to, the more likely you will.
My problem was I assumed my acceptance in God's sight was dependent on my behavior -- which only bred anxiety over my continual failures.
Doug Cummings, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote about Nancy, a 5th-grader from DeKalb County, Georgia. She was horrified when the physical education instructor, Lonnie Edwards, began teaching the class square dancing. Her hands were deformed. She was born with only her pinkies and two partial stubs, and she always carried a towel around to hide her shame.
Edwards spoke kindly to her. He told her that, even though nothing could be done to change her fingers, "I want you to hold your head up. From this moment on, you will no longer use this as a limitation." Nancy became Mr. Edward's partner, and soon all the other kids were willing -- even eager -- to touch Nancy's hands.
Once Nancy learned from Mr. Edwards she was loved and accepted -- despite her deformity, she was transformed. She learned to play piano, to type (at 65 words per minute), and is the mother of four children.
When it finally dawned on me that I'm accepted by God, not because I'm good, but because God is good, everything changed. Peace replaced anxiety, and even when I stumble, the Lord is there to pick me up.
I'm still not a model saint, but I'm learning. I'm determined that, someday, I'll even be a good example.
Falure is not an option.
(Copyright 2017 by Marty Kaarre)