I will be the very first to admit that I am way less than perfect, and anyone who knows me well is aware of that fact. This is something that I often have struggled with inside of my calling to ministry, specifically youth ministry.
How can I possibly show teens how to live a life fully devoted to Christ when I struggle to do so myself?
This is a question that has haunted me in the past. Well for a while, at least. Then I watched a little. Then I listened a little. I got to be around people in ministry. I watched them deal with their imperfections. This was eye-opening for me. For the longest time, I struggled with telling people what field I was studying in, and what type of life I was preparing for. Was this because I was ashamed of my faith? Was I ashamed of Jesus? No. I was ashamed of myself. Being completely aware of my own brokenness and sin, I could not dare to let people know what I felt called to do or who I felt called to be. Then I found a piece of Scripture from 2 Corinthians that comforted me.
To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -II Corinthians 12:7-10
Even Paul, the great missionary of the Gospel, was in need of grace. God has used some really screwed up people to bring about his glory throughout history. King David, “a man after God’s own heart,” was an adulterer who then covered up his adultery by conspiring to have a man killed. Rahab was a prostitute, but God used her to help his people. Paul himself was a killer of Christians, and his letters to churches are now known by many as the “inspired word of God.”
One thing that these people have in common (other than the fact that God used them for great things) was that they did not dwell on their own brokenness, but instead chose to live into a better story. We live in a world filled with stories. Some of these stories are of God, but many are not. Whatever we do, whether good or bad, will be part of our story, but what do the bigger pictures of our lives look like? Overall, are we choosing to serve God with a few hiccups along the way? Or are we rolling around in the muck of our lives? These are the questions we have to answer for ourselves. Personally, every second of every day, I have a choice to make. I can spend my time focusing on my brokenness, or I can choose to live unashamed. Unashamed of myself and fully turning my brokenness over to God, only then is there full life.
While writing this, I thought of a song I grew up singing at Church Camp. Here are some of the lyrics:
I’m trading my sorrows,
I’m trading my shame,
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.
Brokenness is something that exists in everyone’s life, but it is not something that we have to hold on to.
in the midst of brokenness, let us hand it over to Jesus. Again, and again, and again…