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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Messing up, but not messed up

He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.  For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. (Psalm 103:10-14 NLT)

It is indeed good news to know that God doesn't deal with out sin in a harsh or unkind way! Some of us have a negative view of what our heavenly father is like because their earthly father wasn't all that great - others recount the wonderful kindness of their earthly fathers and have no problem relating to God as kind and just. The truth is that God doesn't abandon us, he sees us through, no matter how "misbehaved" we may be, and he isn't going to let us outrun his mercy! Think on that one just a moment - he doesn't let us outrun his love or his grace...he pursues us with a tenacity that suggests we not only matter to him, we matter more than anything else in this whole wide world!

We "deserve" many things - not all of them are exactly what we might imagine! I know my actions have sometimes been less than positive, producing some pretty gnarly results. Those times didn't end well in the natural sense - requiring a whole lot of emotional, spiritual, relational, and/or physical "mop up" in order to move beyond them. God's grace does something miraculous out of the mess I create, though. In fact, when I look closely at what he is doing, I see that he is helping me to rise again - not to repeat those mistakes or take those missteps again, but to rise above and overcome those wrong actions.  While I find it hard to be patient with all the "not so perfect" things I do in this lifetime, hoping against hope that the outcome could have been just a little better, God is already at work helping to change the course of what I messed up.

A couple of words of hope this morning we can focus on as we begin our day:

- God isn't out to get us. Some of us think "fathers" are all about punishment or discipline. God operates on a little different plane, though. He asks for obedience - but he doesn't force us into obedience. He is just when he holds us accountable for our misdeeds, but he also provides a way for us to move away from those missteps and toward the right ones - it is called grace and it is administered in love.

- God isn't after our hide, he is after our heart. He asks for us to put a little "skin in the game" because he knows where we make such an investment of ourselves, we are likely to appreciate and enjoy the outcome much more than if everything was just handed to us on a silver platter. Our heart is made strong by the things we have to work a little harder for, not because "we" did it, but because we took the steps toward seeing his outcome perfected in us.

- God knows we cannot walk this thing out alone. He isn't going to abandon us to our own devices, nor is he going to tell us to work it out ourselves. He does ask us to take the steps we know to be right - this is common sense. He does require us to be obedient to what he reveals to us. But...he doesn't just set us loose and expect us to find our own way. He is there, gently guiding us back on course when we veer ever so slightly.

God is just. He is loving. He is compassionate toward our needs - even when they are there in our lives because we "messed up". Just sayin!