Have you ever heard those stories of people who would open the Bible and follow whatever the particular verse their finger hit for that given day? I heard one where someone happened upon "Go out with joy" and decided that meant he should ask a girl he knew named Joy out on a date. I guess we should be thankful he never hit upon "Pluck out the eye that causes you to sin"....
Now I'm not saying the Bible isn't applicable today. It is. In fact, I can open my Bible and find something to speak to me on any given day. It fits. But I have never felt compelled to pluck out my eye or wear sack cloth and ashes. (I did tell the husband after the van's engine went kerflooey (A highly technical term) and the oldest son totaled the car that if the wind storm we were having knocked a tree down on the new-to-us van, I was totally in sack cloth and ashes mode. I was so there!)
One of my goals for this year is to read the whole Bible. I have tried many times but I always get stuck and behind and never can catch up. This year I bought a One Year Bible and it breaks down the readings so that each day I read something from the Old Testament, something from the New Testament, something from Proverbs and something from the Psalms. So far it has been easy peasy, lemon squeezy to stick with. But more than that, every single day, I find something that speaks to me on that day.
This morning, I read Matthew 9: 13 b For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners. That one I can handle. I can totally identify with the sinner thing. I struggle with it. I own it and I hate it and yet... I am a sinner and it makes me feel unworthy and I wrote about that feeling of being unworthy and voila, I read this verse and I was reminded that God calls sinners and humble people, not those who believe they are perfect. In fact in the verse prior Jesus says Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do.
Can I hear an, "Amen!"? How about, "Thank you, Jesus!"?
I mean, seriously, when I am reminded of this I feel...relieved. I spend so much time feeling the sting of every mistake, every misstep, every sinful thought and deed and the guilt I feel from the sins separates me from God even more than the sins do, because in my shame I turn farther from God, farther from prayer, farther from...who I am called to be. The sin becomes a reason to stay in the same place instead of moving forward with life and goals and dreams...and calls to use the gifts given by an amazing, grace-giving God.
If you feel that way, like you can't move forward remember God calls the sinners. Of course, now that we are all up on preventative health care, I recognize that I can prevent some of my sins by making choices that aren't going to get me in a bad place, but when I get there, God doesn't turn his back on me. Instead, He sees my need for Him and He welcomes me, if I let Him, if I am not so busy beating myself up that I don't see His open arms.
For this I say, "Amen!" and "Thank You, Jesus!"