I’ve been working on a poem lately called “The inherent industry of humanity” that opens up with the phrase, “We are all collateral damage factories and we desperately try to go on living with the mess that we have made.”
Which, to be honest, is a pretty dismal outlook on humanity as a whole.
But, I kind of feel like it holds true.
We seem to be severely successful at sowing sorrow into the world that we were asked to take care of.
Scripture attests to this by the way, telling us in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
This tendency to turn away from the design of our Dad seems ingrained in us. Like a warped gene sequence that has passed from parent to child, from Adam and Eve, to all the children born into this state of brokenness.
And what sucks, more than almost anything else, is the fact that often this pain that we peddle is completely unintentional.
Don’t get me wrong, we have all embraced self-serving sins, fully knowledgeable of the suffering that would result from it.
But even in our best efforts, we often end up hurting others when we were trying to do anything but.
And this is something that I have been struggling with lately.
It pains me to see how I have harmed people while doing my best to be who God has called me to be; and honestly it pushes me towards cynicism. What is the worth of my labors of love if they only end up wounding the one’s I’m serving?
And on top of that, this perceived futility in all my activity has only served to separate me from Yhwh in my mind.
I’ve been struggling with a level of insecurity that has been feeding on a belief that no matter how hard I try, I will never be enough for my God.
I feel inadequate; I feel like I have failed to live up to the sacrifice that was poured out for me at Calvary.
I feel like a worthless son, working with cursed hands and breaking every vase placed in my hands, spreading out shards of pottery that will only serve to slice open the feet of anyone unfortunate to enter into our workshop.
And I know that I’m an over-thinker, it is in my nature, and is one of the things that pushes me to write so much. But, in spite of that, I don’t think that this is an experience that is wholly unique to me.
I would be a liar if I said that I am passed this; I’m not, at least not fully.
But thanks to the Holy Spirit I have been shown a few weapons to help in fighting against this.
Firstly, we must come to grip with the fact that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not a loan, it was a gift.
I know that we know this, but we have to truly trust that truth.
There is not some eternal, cosmic ledger sitting before the throne of God in which our good deeds are ticking off a debt that we owe to the King of kings.
We were freed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and our debts were paid off completely.
We are free.
Free to enjoy who He is and who He has made us into in Him.
Our obedience to His guidance cannot be an attempt to pay Him back, but rather a wise and loving recognition that His way is truly the best way, and a declaration that we trust that He is leading us into what is best.
I’m not paying off a debt to an indifferent creditor, but I am following a loving Father as He leads me into beauty that He has set aside for me that I could never see in all my wanderings alone.
Secondly, we must trust that Dad knows us in all of our folly and loves us and places trust in us anyway.
Psalms 144:2 says. “He (Yhwh) is my faithful love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer.”
As I was reading that, I was struck by the oddity of the fact that in the same verse Yhwh is called our fortress and our deliverer.
This combination insinuates one of two things: either He is insufficient as our fortress and we will have to be rescued because He could not keep us safe, or we will have to be delivered because we wandered outside the walls of our perfect fortress.
And while, in our sorrow-fueled emotions we may be tempted to believe the former, all of Scripture reveals to us that it is the latter that holds truth.
He knows us. Jeremiah 1:5 and Isaiah 46:10 lets us know that He knew us before our beginnings.
Revelations 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ chose self-sacrifice for us before He began creation.
He knew and knows every single one of our successes and our failures, those that have been and those that will be.
And even in this, He chose us.
We are accepted and integrated into His family, adopted as sons through His own effort; and it is not a position that must be earned.
I know that is hard to wrap our heads around, but even as we continue to stumble, we are still embraced by our Father.
Finally, we must learn to trust in the redemptive ability of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Redemption means to purchase back and restore to intended design.
The idea stems from an ancient Hebrew practice of family members purchasing one of their own that had been sold into slavery for one reason or another. When the family member was purchased, they did not become the slave of their family member that purchased them, but rather were set free and placed back into their position as a son or daughter without any obligation to repay for their purchase.
When Jesus Christ purchased us by His blood, He redeemed us and restored us back to the position we were supposed to be in before our fall.
As we place our successes and our failures in His hands, He restores them back to perfection.
That is the strength of His sacrifice: through it, He is able to bring everything back to the way He intended it to be.
And if we will trust Him in this, if we will place our lives in His hands, we do not have to fear our failures; He will bring them back to how they should have been.
From Here To There
I haven’t finished my poem yet.
I have the beginning, which is my lamentation of my own shortcomings, and I have the ending, which is where I embrace the truth that He is enough and I am enough in Him.
It is the in-between that I am still working on; that process of getting from here to there.
I pray that these tools with give me the strength to complete the journey to accepting this understanding and I pray that they help you, too.
Allow me to leave you on the note of hope that ends my poem, a phrase that recognizes the pain we create, but one that also honors the faithfulness of our Father to care for His children:
We are all collateral damage factories, but through the grace of the continuously living King we are able to go on living
in spite of the mess that we have made.