God spoke to me this morning.
You want to know what He said?
"Cut yourself some slack."
He whispered this same thought into my heart as I was listening to Charles Stanley talk about the Apostle Peter this morning. They are playing a series of sermons he did on 1 Peter and the first one is kind of "Peter - this is your life."
I like Peter. I always have. I used to not like him or Paul very much 'cause they can come off as women-haters. But that was before I studied in context, rather than just projecting my 21st century mind into a 1st century way of thinking. In fact, what Peter writes in that letter, logged in the first six lines of chapter 3, saved my marriage. It radically changed who I am as a wife, for the betterment of my family. It taught me that it was better to act out Christ's love than to nag my husband into salvation.
But when you study Peter in the Gospels, one thing becomes terribly accurate. He was a loud, sometimes, obnoxious - although certainly bright - man. He uttered the confession of faith that Christianity is built upon. Yet right after that, he tried to trip Jesus up. (See Matthew 16:16-23)
Solid as a rock yet full of cracks.
I've written before about how I struggle with guilt. I am very hard on myself. It seems it is a genetic disorder in my family, my Mom suffers from it too. We either go 90 miles an hour or at a dead stop. And when we are stopped, we beat ourselves up for not going 90.
This morning gave me pause. It also renewed my faith in God's goodness. He made sure I knew, through Dr. Stanley's words, that God didn't expect me to be perfect. He expects that I love His Son above all else. He will work in me when I'm solid as a rock and when my cracks are threatening to break me in half.
God doesn't view me as I view myself. He doesn't expect what I expect of myself. It's high time I remember that. He doesn't expect me to be an award-winning, highly successful author right now (although that would be nice). He expects that I do what He has called me to do.
In case you are wondering that that is, the prophet Micah made it crystal clear:
1. Act Justly
2. Love Mercy
3. Walk humbly with God.
He doesn't require my writing career to be in full swing at the moment because I couldn't handle it. My ministry is to my husband and small children. To myself and my parents. To those I encounter every day. He has given me special purpose in ministry to those families in treatment for cancer.
But I don't have to be solid all the time for Him to work in any and all of those areas. In fact, I've found it's the cracks that make the most impact. It's those imperfections, the weaknesses that tunnel His light most effectively; the one shaft of light shining through a crack in my heart, into the darkness of someone else's life.
It's answering that question Jesus posed to Peter - Who do you say I am? - Repeatedly.
Every morning. At lunchtime. Before I go to bed.
If I know the answer to that question, if I have a teachable heart to learn more about Who Jesus is - then He will use me, in good times and in bad.
Thank You Lord for that measure of grace, abundantly poured out, pressed down and filled to overflowing. Thank You for Your love that heals all the wounds and covers up a multitude of sins. Thank You for seeing me better than I see myself. Thank You for reminding me that Your Love is the only thing that has to be perfect.
P.S. Please don't let me forget it this time!!