“Even on your worst days you are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace. And on your best days you are never so good that you’re beyond the need of God’s grace.” – Anonymous
Perched along the Anclote River at the end of Dodecanese Boulevard in picturesque Tarpon Springs, Florida is Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill, one of my preferred writing (and lunchtime) destinations. Besides the sumptuous seafood served in a friendly, casual, “TIKI” atmosphere, the waterfront location provides amazing views of the Anclote River complete with breathtaking sunsets. For me, Rusty Bellies has become a quick slice of “workday” paradise, just a short drive from my home – a genuine Inspiration Point.
And so there I was, sitting at my regular table, noshing on fresh Grouper skewers over black beans and rice while writing and occasionally chewing the fat with a few acquaintances. This one guy in particular kept making negative comments about himself. I really didn’t know him very well, but he seemed nice enough. Still, I couldn’t help but notice his frequent self-abasing remarks. He seemed to be obsessed with his shortcomings and failures. It is one thing to be humble – dead to self – quite another to stew in the crock pot of self-loathing.
When he finally summed up his life as a wasted, worthless and godforsaken existence, I could not contain myself any further. I looked straight at him and said, “Every human being is born with a copy of the Creator’s master blueprint flashed upon the fabric of his human spirit. God doesn’t forsake us! But, we can and often do desert him. We are all born into a world of wickedness (sin). In time, our fallen nature takes control of our lives, we mess up and thus we are all in desperate need of the Great Designer’s amazing grace. That is why He sent a liberator to the earth.”
Yea, the guy just stared at me. Uncomfortably. And for a moment I felt a bit awkward myself, wondering what to do next. He needed to know the Truth. So I told him even more about the Liberator Jesus and His power to set mankind free.
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – C. S. Lewis, (1898-1963)
Have you ever felt like this gentleman? Stuck in a funk of disappointment, hopelessness; maybe even despair? Look, I have made a myriad of mistakes in my life. Regrets? I’ve had a few. Missed opportunities? You bet! But I have decided that wallowing in self-pity is not the way to handle my problems, especially in the light of what is written about us humans in the ancient scriptures,
13 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous””and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” – Psalm 139:13-16 TLB
The Creator knew every detail of our lives before we were born – the good, bad and ugly. As we grow older, it’s easy to look at our cumulative mistakes and think that we’ve diminished our usefulness to God. Listen, no life is so messed up, so broken, so imperfect that the great Designer can’t fix it.
God loves the human race. He may hate our sin but he loves the sinner. He may allow the consequences of sin to manifest in our lives, but He still loves the sinner. However, one day his Divine love and mercy must give way to his Divine Justice and the final judgement of everyone who refuses the free gift of His liberating grace. Consider yourself warned.
The next time that you look at someone and think, “they seem to have it all together”, remember this: we all wrestle with personal brokenness, mistakes, and hurts. There is not one person on spaceship earth who isn’t struggling in some way.
“Most of the appearance of mirth in the world is not mirth, it is art. The wounded spirit is not seen, but walks under a disguise.” – Bishop Robert South, (1634-1716)
There are numerous examples of broken people in the Bible for whom God had a plan – even when they seemed to be “hopeless cases.”
- Esther was an orphan girl living with her cousin. In the culture of her day, she had three things working against her; she was a Jew in a hostile land, a women and an orphan girl. Hopeless? God used Esther to save the Jewish nation.
- Joseph was sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery. Later he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into jail. At that moment, his life sure seemed hopeless and useless. God eventually raised him up to a great leadership position and used him to save his people from a 7 year-long famine.
- Job lost his children and all of his wealth. His body became covered with boils and oozing soars. His wife walked out on him when he needed her the most. Hopeless? Sounds like a lost cause to me. But without knowing it, Job was proving false the accusations Satan made about him to God. Eventually Job was restored and blessed abundantly. His life and actions have provided comfort and encouragement to people who are struggling, even to this day.
- The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well was a mess. She had been married 5 times and then didn’t bother to marry the 6th man in her life. She was a social outcast and appeared to be a hopeless loser. Jesus spoke with her, exposed her true condition and offered her His living water. As a result, God used her to bring the Samaritan people the Gospel and many in her town were converted.
- Peter denied Jesus three times. The shame he felt must have been overwhelming. When Jesus saw Peter after the resurrection, He didn’t scold him. He asked Peter to spread the Good News of mankind’s liberation to others. Jesus knew the real Peter.
- Paul had a reputation for killing people that followed the teaching of the Liberator Jesus. He actually thought he was doing God a favor. So, Jesus confronted him as an extraordinary light on the road to Damascus. The incident left him shaken and temporarily blind. Paul later became a hand-picked convert and was responsible for setting up the early churches. His writings make up nearly half of the New Testament.
Every one of us has a purpose. God formed us; He knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7). Our faces and personalities are well-known to Him. It doesn’t matter how far away we have wandered, He never forgets who we are. His love for us reaches to the far corners of this earth and to the depths of the ocean. He does all He can to bring us back home to Himself whenever we go astray. And when we ask for His forgiveness, He doesn’t keep a record of our failures. In His great mercy He sees the beautiful person He created. God doesn’t see the mess we’ve made; He sees a diamond in the rough – a work in progress.
“If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, His arm over us, and His ear open to our prayer–His grace sufficient, His promises unchangeable.” – John Newton, (1725-1807)
Broken people are not rubbish to God. Whatever the state of our affairs, God loves us. He sees the value in each of us. He knows the gifts he has placed within our DNA. As his workmanship, we are continually modeled by his Divine hands into a new creation based on His original and marvelous design.
10 “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” – Ephesians. 2:10 AMP
GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK …
Almighty God, we confess our faults to you. We have messed up; but we can depend on your faithfulness to forgive our many failures, making us blameless in your sight. Our hope rests upon the Liberator Jesus. He paid our ransom and set us free. Help us as we journey along life’s road until the day of our final walk on the trip back home. We ask this all in the name of Jesus – our kinsman redeemer. AMEN.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656