Burrito!“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3.17

I know that I’ve been told that God isn’t waiting in heaven, ready to smite me when I step out of line. If you asked me, I would tell you that God is all-loving and all-forgiving. But, most of the time, I don’t really believe it. When it comes to my thoughts about myself, I am continually trying to earn a little more.

A few years ago I fasted on a regularly basis. Regular fasting, I think, is one of the signs of mental imbalance. And, back then, I was probably more than a little imbalanced. Yesterday, however, I decided to try fasting again. Just for one day. By the afternoon, I was cranky and hungry and tired. After getting home from work, I immediately fell asleep. Then, I woke up and had something to eat.

As I was eating my micro-waved burrito (I know, I know…but we were low on food and I was, obviously, pretty hungry) I started to think about how I hadn’t fasted as long as I planned; I had given in to temptation. I thought about how I hadn’t exercised as much as I wanted this week, either. I had some work to do that I’d been putting off for a couple of weeks, too. And, as part of my fast, I wasn’t supposed to be watching TV, which I was doing.

My friend, Micah, who is a musician, wrote this song about Jesus coming to set us free, not condemn us. His song talks about “religion” and how it sets up rules and attracts the self-righteous, not the truly despised and destitute and seeking. It ends repeating, “Blessed are the poor and blessed are the weak, and blessed are the humble and blessed are the meek…” It’s catchy, and I listen to it when I need to be reminded that life with Jesus isn’t about measuring up. It’s about not measuring up.
I read Psalm 32 this morning which begins, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

When I don’t exercise, or get work done, or fast as long as I planned, I am blessed. For at those points I feel poor and weak, humble and meek, and approach God with empty hands. Too often I approach God with words of saying, “I messed up here but I’m going to try harder; next time I’ll fast longer and make you proud.” Next time? Aren’t I trying, in my own head, to earn my place with God, to impress him with what I will do? Aren’t I cheapening his grace, not letting it cover me in my frailty but rather masquerading as someone who has it all together — in front of God, no less?

I am blessed when I don’t make excuses, when I offer my failures as naked as they come, when I go to God expecting not condemnation, but forgiveness. And freedom.