Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Way Before Good Enough

Not too long ago, I ran into a woman who saw me with my Bible and asked me why I carried it.  Her question was so direct, it took me slightly off-guard.  I said something like, “I never know when I might need it.”  She looked curious and so I sat down next to her and asked her what she knew about the Bible.  She told me she didn’t go to church, but knew about Jesus.  I asked a few more questions: “What do you know about him?  How come you don’t go to church?  Do you have a Bible?”  Then she told me that she can’t go to church yet.  I was struck by this word “yet,” so I asked her what she meant.  “I still do bad things.  I’m not good enough yet.”  

It is easy for me to forget the state of my life when God’s grace first appeared to me.  I look back now and see the destructive road I was traveling.  At the time, it seemed like the only road.  I don’t remember seeing any exits, or rest stops, or caution signs, though I’m sure they were there.  I catch glimpses of what God watched me do and heard me say, and I am so ashamed that to bring it to mind is almost too much to take.  He saw everything I did, everywhere I was.  He saw the very, very bottom.  

But it was there, at the bottom, that I was first overcome by his grace.  I had never seen it before.  I had not been aware I needed it.  I had not been aware of its power and its gentleness.  It did not wait for me to stop doing bad things or to clean myself up.  It did not wait for “good enough.”  It was just suddenly there, mysteriously closer than my own breath when I was at my worst.

I must encounter people in my day-to-day living who, although they might not say so explicitly, are at or very near their bottom.  They are starting to see what they are capable of and how their own hearts can lead them to do things they are ashamed of when they are alone in the dark.  I might be the one God will use to show his grace to them in this very moment at the bottom.  I might be the one, if I would only be available, that God will use to reveal how his love and grace can cover every deed, every word, and every thought.  I might be the one that God will use to show that his mercy simply knows no bounds and reaches in when we are at our worst.  I might be the one that God will use to say that Jesus saves now, when we are not good enough, when we still do bad things.  (Romans 5:8)     

The only way for me to be someone God uses to show that his grace doesn’t wait for “good enough” is to never forget where grace came to me:  way before good enough. 

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