You know what is so great about the Bible? It tells real stories. Not just true stories, but real stories. Stories that Church leaders would probably change or leave out if they were writing it – and many times we tend to gloss over them, but let’s face it; the Bible is not G-rated!
- David and Bathsheba
- God killing the firstborn of Egypt
- Lot handing his daughters over to the crowd in Sodom to be raped,
- Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law Tamar because she’s dressed up like a hooker
- Joshua’s spies going into Jericho – not only do they meet Rahab, but they go into her house – a known prostitute – not exactly churchy stuff. I’m sure many people over the years wondered if they left with their wallets a little lighter but were afraid to ask.
God doesn’t hide real life from us. He uses it to show us that his people were real people with real lives. Real messy lives.
On a cold winter day, I had one of those mornings – you know – the real messy ones.
The kids were off of school and I had planned on having a relaxed day and playing in the new fallen snow and maybe a board game during Toddler’s nap. It didn’t start out on such a great note though.
Toddler was frightened in the morning of something and asked me (no kidding) the same question every 2 minutes for an hour. Sister had melt down after meltdown – either something hurt her or she was upset or disappointed and BigBro provoked her underhandedly. As a result, she had (and I counted them) eleven meltdowns before ten o’clock. Even the coffee I downed wasn’t helping me cope. After breaking up a fight over who was emptying what part of the dishwasher, I was, through gritted teeth explaining to her that perhaps she could communicate to BigBro that he didn’t divide the labor fairly instead of screaming and crying. At the end of our conversation, I told her to go back to the dishwasher and she said “I’m hot” and started crying again.
That was it.
So, I screamed at her.
At the top of my lungs.
Not any words, just a scream.
She ran upstairs and mature, in control, me follows her. I enter her room and scream again. I tell her that all the crying and whining makes me feel that way. Then I went downstairs to finish washing dishes. I stood at the sink and sobbed.
You see, the night before, my husband and I had gone to a parenting class and the gist of the class was that modeling is the best way of parenting and we want to raise kids to be closer to Jesus and more like Jesus, so we needed to evaluate the things we do and say and if we want our kids to model that. Some modeling I did.
As I stood there sobbing, “ding-dong” went the doorbell.
Are you kidding me?
On the other side of the door was a dear friend – looking quite bewildered at the sight of me in my pajamas with my hair a disaster and red, tearstained face. She asked me with uncertainty if she should leave or come in and I invited her in.
I invited her not only into my home, but into my life.
Into my real life.
My real, messy life at that moment. I proceeded to confess my morning to her gracious understanding. She didn’t condemn me – nope. She hugged me and told me that I’m a good mom and I’m doing a good job.
Jesus is that way. He wants us to invite him in – not into our “cleaned for company” home, but into our real messy lives. He does not condemn us, but he holds us while we sob to him that we’ve messed up again. He’s seen it all before.
God doesn’t hide behind stained-glass windows in white-washed churches. Nope. He lays out the real messy stories of his people so that we can see that there is nothing we’ve done that he hasn’t seen before. The real, true, messy stories in this book show that over and over and over again.
And as he holds us in those moments – or waits for us to open the door and invite him in, he calls to us,
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
You know what though? He doesn’t just leave it there; holding us and forgiving us.
He redeems it.
I can’t erase my lack of self-control from that messy day. But I can -and did- get down on my knees in front of Sister with her hands in mine and ask for forgiveness. I faced what I’d done. I can allow God to gradually redeem my actions by showing me how to love her in the way she needs it.
Likewise, he shows us in this book that he’s redeemed his people. Not just from sin, but in a really cool way. David and Bathsheba, Judah and Tamar, and even the prostitute Rahab – he’s redeemed them all, not only in the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, but by allowing them a special place in history – a place in the lineage of Christ. Although Jesus lived a perfect life, his ancestors were some pretty messed up people – and God doesn’t hide that – he uses it to show us the power of his redemption.
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