If I could use one word to describe myself, that would be it.
Sounds a bit depressing, eh? Well, it is realistic. I am not a good person. I have fallen short of the standard, I have lied, I have run away in cowardice, I have been horridly selfish, and I have been insupportably proud. I have thought myself better than others. I am not.
I have failed to meet God's standard. It is impossible for me to reach it. Broken laws must have consequence, there must be justice. Otherwise, we would all be thieves and murderers. Still, in His eyes, we are as bad as thieves and murderers. He is so good and holy, that our goodness, the good things we do, is barely a shred of what He does, and our endeavors can never redeem us.
Today I received a gift from my church. Some people went to a concert where my favorite band would be jamming, but I could not go. This morning after service, my pastor handed me a bag. "Tenth Avenue North" the bag read, and inside was a t-shirt from the band--a beautiful one with a ship sailing in a storm. I have done little if not nothing to deserve such a gift. Even before I had begun to be involved, at the third service I came to, I was told I was part of the family. I had done nothing, and yet they extended their arms and hearts to me, knowing nothing of who I was or where I'd been.
They preached the Gospel to me, without words. They gave me love I did not deserve, love I hadn't earned. That's the Gospel! The story isn't over where I left off. God sent His Son--Himself, in the mystery of the Trinity. He sacrificed, stepping into time, taking on flesh, and walked among us. He spoke truth, He loved, and a few loved Him back, but most ridiculed Him, most spat in His face and nailed Him to a cross to die a shameful, painful death. Even in the last moments, as they divided the spoils, He begged "Father, forgive them." (Luke 23:34). It isn't a myth--a man named Jesus died on a cross, and it was for you and it was for me, and it was not what we deserve.
At that moment, when Jesus surrendered unto death, bearing the punishment of our sins, our wrongdoings, our selfishness, the curtain that divided the people from God was torn in two, rent from top to bottom. This was a big curtain--I believe it was close to 80 feet. And it was torn from the top to the bottom. There was--there is--no longer a divide between us and God.
All we need is to admit that we don't deserve it. That we are as bad as our worst thoughts say and more. “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
When I realize that I am undeserving, then I am infinitely more grateful for every circumstance. It is today that I realized that the best moments, the moments that linger in my memory, the moments that have defined my life have not been moments that I was responsible for. They were not results of my own will or determination. The best parts of my life have not been things I have done, but things done unto me. By God, in saving me--my first memory is accepting God's love. By the generosity and love of others.
Maybe I am crazy in the end, maybe I am a fool and will be forgotten and written off by the cynics, waved away by others. I haven't found answers to all my or their questions.
I found something better: Him.