I’m a Mess-terpiece

LEAH FARISH|GUEST

That was my conclusion the other day when I mentally reviewed footage of my most moronic moments. Once I was hosting a meal after a funeral, and in trying to light candles, I set the tablecloth on fire. Another time I was having a wonderful conversation in our living room with an honored guest, until the pet chinchilla got out, and the dog got in. One of us did not survive the chaos.

I was going to bring punch to your anniversary party, but I took the wrong highway exit and got there 45 minutes late. Here’s that book I borrowed—it was as thrilling as you had said! But I did have a tiny incident with the grape jelly while I was reading it. Youth group is arriving to meet at our house, and so are the plumber and the electrician….

Time does not permit to tell of my doomed drive to the next county to deliver an important document (it never got there), or of why I nearly threw up on a nun in an airplane. No, nor of how I closed a conversation with someone I wanted to impress by saying, “Thank you please!”  And there was the time—I’m sorry, times— when I fell down in front of a hundred people.

The only suave thing about me is that I don’t blush, though my self-esteem is curdling like the carton of milk I left in the trunk of the car.

Why don’t I just hide under the covers to avoid doing some real damage? Sometimes that has seemed a good option. I’ve always found it hard to feel forgiveness for doing something stupid that is not a sin. Oh, wretched woman that I am, who will rescue me from this body of sin and death and fender benders and lost house keys? How can I repent of stupidity? I can take my sins to the foot of the cross, but I can only shudder when I remember how things ended after letting my nephew try to walk in his new leg cast.

Is there grace for innocent blunders? If so, why do they cause me to sit up in bed at 2 AM and clap my hand to my forehead, whereas my memories of being angry or feeling lust allow me to sleep like a baby?

Perhaps I’m actually more comfortable with offending God than with embarrassing myself before the world. Hell-worthy is bad, but cringe-worthy is worse! Perhaps I find it intolerable to be limited—to be exposed as human.

Or maybe I am so profoundly spiritual that I know I am secure in Christ’s atoning work, but have not bothered to grasp His provision for my general idiocy. Seems unlikely.

Maybe I have merely found yet another reason to keep my eyes on myself, not on others, or “the rock that is higher than I.”  Better to let all the gaffes humble me.

Maybe there are things to repent of after all. Did I get into a hurry because like Mary of Bethany, I was “worried and concerned about many things,” when “really only one” is “necessary?” Did I fail to use wisdom offered in Proverbs, or to be “slow to speak and quick to listen” as James urges?

Blunders happen in the Bible:  The well-meaning women taking embalming pots to Christ’s empty tomb. Abimilech thinking Sarah was available to marry. The Philippian jailer starting to kill himself because he thought his prisoners had escaped. A boy dozing during Paul’s preaching and falling to what was thought to be his death. Each was restored—by a revelation of God’s power and truth. None was rebuked or punished. Maybe mistakes aren’t the end of my world, either.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-38)

I say a sheepish “Amen” to God’s faithfulness to me.  Through His sufficiency, insufficient persons will be forever embraced by the accepting love of God.  He is making of His people a mess-terpiece.

About the Author:

Leah Farish

Leah Farish teaches college courses on law, language, and public speaking in Oklahoma.  She also heads a nonprofit which encourages volunteerism.  She and her husband attend Christ Presbyterian in Tulsa, when she is not working on behalf of women in North Africa or the Middle East.

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