“I wish you could see me now, I wish I could show you how, I’m not who I was…”
These words were written by an artist names Brandon Heath. I had the opportunity to speak with him after a songwriters showcase at GMA many years ago and he shared with me how interesting it was that that particular song was nominated for “song of the year” when it wasn’t technically written “correctly” (there is no real chorus or bridge)… it simply told a story in a catchy way.
I think the reason the song was so well received (and still is years later) is that it is honest and reflective. Who can’t relate? Who doesn’t look back on their life and think, “Wow! I’ve changed so much since x happened.”
Sometimes when I think back to the 13-year-old who started singing and sharing so passionately about what she believed, I cringe, because some of what I said and did was . . . well, not what I would say or do now. I was what many would call a zealot. I loved the Lord with everything in me. But I didn’t have a whole lot of life experience (I was, after all, a teenager) and I made mistakes. “Blunders” might be a good word to use. I was harsh when I could have been gentle. Unwavering when I could have been more understanding. (And once I interrupted a Pastor in the middle of his sermon because he was misquoting something to lead people into a false prosperity message . . . hey, my heart was in the right place.) Still, when I really think about it, it is sad that I look back with shame. After all, I was only a teenager, searching for God and doing my best to honor him. If God only used perfect people—people who have reached complete in maturity—no one would ever be used. Even Paul said he had not yet arrived. While we are on this earth we will only see in part. The path of life is a path of learning and transformation.
It is when we are humble enough to be vulnerable and share our best-at-this-present-moment selves (yes, even while we are in the midst of our own metamorphosis) that we can truly impact those around us. Will we make mistakes? Yes. Will we fail? Yes. But those very moments can display the hope and the power of the gospel! Even we mess up or misunderstand or even misrepresent, he still works in and through us.
I once heard someone describe the disciples as men who were “ignorant but who desperately loved Jesus.” (I sure can relate to that!) They made mistakes. They misjudged. Sometimes they even misrepresented. But they continued to follow Jesus. How much better off were they than those who decided to play it safe and observe from a distance? The disciples enjoyed direct access with the Savior because they were willing to lay down their pride and follow him—even when they didn’t quite grasp everything he was saying and doing. That direct access enabled them to experience things they would otherwise not have experienced. And they learned . . . in spite of their blunders . . . and all who profess to be Christians have benefited from their testimonies of Grace!
When we choose what seems to be a safer path to avoid the humiliation of failure, we miss out on being part of the narrative in God’s story. Today I heard it put this way: “Are we on a pilgrimage or are we sight seeing?” In other words, are we fully engaged or are we just observing?
I think we may be insulting God when we look back on our young selves and cringe because we “know better now.” Maybe we actually knew better then; after all, we were chasing after him with everything we had. There is more wisdom in pursuing a life that is pleasing to him than there is in saving ourselves from the embarrassment of being “human.”
The older I get the more I cling to Lamentations 3:21-23 “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” God is with us from day one of our journey and he never leaves. Let’s give him the credit he deserves for doing great things in and through us in spite of ourselves! We are his workmanship. Our lives are his message to the world—a message of hope, renewal,restoration, and change.