I want to apologize to you up front. I had hoped to give you a cheerful voice today. To encourage and inspire you. But at times I am gently reminded that my call (and yours) to pepper the world with "salt and light" often takes a shape of blistering truth telling. And today I feel scared, sad, doubtful and angry. Despair and anger seethes everywhere I turn, in my home, in the heartland, across the globe. My yoke feels heavy; and my response is not always ideal.
But our good and gracious God urges me to proclaim:
I am not perfect... I just know the one who is. I cannot forgive myself... but I know the one who will. I have failed in modeling humility and integrity and compassion... but I know the one who loves me despite my failures. I have doubts; but I know the one who replenishes my faith. And if He can do it for me, He will do it for you. If you're not perfect, join our club, because believers aren't perfect either. There is only one worthy of that title. The rest of us reside in mercy, and we're called to extend it in turn.
When a Christian's less than perfect responses to life's struggles are revealed - especially those who serve as leaders, encouragers and messengers - their actions invite accusations of hypocrisy. How dare one purport to act as ambassador for Christ when he or she is clearly an alien?
Well, because there not one of us above sin. (I tend to look at sin as any state of mind or action that separates one from God. Just my take.) Not even pastors, deacons, bishops, lay leaders, Sunday school teachers, Christian columnists, authors and speakers. But even sin, doubt and pain have purpose in Kingdom building. How else can one truly minister to the bereaved and broken if they haven't been forced to seek their own healing and redemption?
I believe God wants each and every one of us to reside in the transcending light of His love, even though we wrestle with the dark side, each in our own way. Christians yell at their children; get divorced; succumb to addictions; lie, cheat and pass judgment; have affairs and neglect to take in their trash barrels after pick-up. We are not always holy and unblemished; we just recognize our need for God's perfect love and mercy.
If only perfect people were allowed access to the great teacher, pews (and pulpits) would be emptied. Churches by the legions would be compelled to hang a new shingle, one that reads, "Sinners Welcome! Come sit by the rest of the sinners! Get your hope and healing here!" It doesn't mean our Father doesn't expect better than our natural impulses, but instead, that we seek His direction in our effort to grow closer to the very best version of ourselves.
I promise, when my own bout with the dark side dissipates, I'll fill my column with the lighter side of God's love. Until then, I'm residing in the words of Psalm 23. I hope you'll join me.
Diane Meehl wrestles with the dark side in Ahwatukee Foothills. She and her family worship at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Check out her blog at www.thepowderroomm.blogspot.com for insight, inspiration and fun.