First, I apologize for my absence. When “Deep in the Heart” went #1 on the Top 100 Paid list at Amazon, it took me completely by surprise. I have been devoting time to sales and follow-ups. Thank you to everyone who downloaded “Deep in the Heart.” I sincerely hope you enjoy it!
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
I Need Jesus — Step 7
Reviewing what we’ve done so far so everyone remembers:
Reviewing and for those just joining us….
- Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
- Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
- Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
- Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
- Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
- Step 6 – We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Now we move to Step 7:
Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
In my walk with God, I have come to realize that very often God has less interest in removing my shortcomings as He does in showing His power and love through my shortcomings.
I think that one of the ways we get tripped up in this life is that we start thinking in an all-or-nothing pattern. In other words, “It’s either all-right, or it’s worthless.” So I’m either perfect, or worthless, and there’s nothing in between.
In fact, some people will go so far as to quote the Bible to you trying to get you to fall into the perfection trap. When God talks about “perfecting” what He has made–i.e. you, we in our worldly, small perspective think that means that God is eventually going to make us perfect. In other words, He’s going to make US perfect, and by perfect, most of us think of a perfect “performance.”
So we look to God and ask Him to remove our shortcomings–those places that we are less than perfect. Now in a way, I kind of understand this, but if you’re thinking that going through it, God is somehow going to magically make it so you don’t mess up anymore, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
For example, this morning my family was asked to take up gifts at church. Now I have seen this done and even done it countless times. It’s not too hard. You get the gifts from the back, walk down the center aisle, give the gifts to the priest, bow, and walk back up the center aisle, and go to your place.
Yes. Unless you’re Staci and you get so caught up in how nervous your child is that you don’t think the whole thing through.
So here’s what happened: Son leads, then me, then my daughters, then my husband. All is going according to plan. We get to the front, give the gifts, bow, and then…
I don’t know why. I really, honestly don’t.
Instead of turning around and going back up the aisle, I turned to the side and headed back to our seats!
I was literally halfway around the front before I thought about it. I know everyone in church was going, “What are they doing?”
After getting back to our bench, I was like, “Why did I do that? I know the right way is to go to the back.” I just hadn’t thought the whole process through, and in my imperfection, I didn’t do it according to protocol.
What I’m saying is, you’re going to mess up. I’m going to mess up. I do mess up… REGULARLY! Some times I spend whole days thinking all I did all day was mess up!
So I know that God is not in the business of removing my shortcomings. BUT what Hehas taught me is being gracious and gentle with myself just as He is gentle and gracious with me.
In fact, right after church I went to teach Sunday School. At the very end I always choose one student to lead us in the Our Father. One student eagerly raised her hand, “I’ll do it!” “Okay.”
And she proceeded very reverently as if all of Creation were smiling on her because she was leading the prayer. “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts…”
The first thing I noticed was that no one joined in with her. Then I realized why. That’s the Meal Blessing prayer!
Of course that probably means she and her family pray that one frequently, which is a good thing. ;) About that moment, she realized her mistake, stopped, and said, “Oh, no! I mean, ‘Our Father…'” This time everyone kind of laughed and joined in. She put her face in her hands, embarrassed that everyone had seen her make such a public mistake.
When the prayer was over, I gave her a big hug and said, “I was wondering why I messed up so badly today in church.” I told them all what had happened and laughed about it. Then I told her, “Isn’t it great that God doesn’t require us to be perfect for Him to love us?”
It really is.
So maybe rather than asking for Him to “remove” our shortcomings, maybe we should pray for His grace and mercy to help us see that our shortcomings are really not the end of the world. We all have them, and in accepting the love He gives us in spite of our mistakes, maybe we learn to be a bit more compassionate with others as well.
And that’s not such a bad step to take.
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