"Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today."
I had a conversation with a good friend the other day. We processed through the extremely difficult circumstances in her life. The morning had been rough, leaving her deflated and defeated. Regardless of her troubled morning she connected with Holy Spirit and found comfort and security, knowing because of her Father her failure wouldn't dictate her future. She could own her rough reality and respond in the way of redemption adding life back to a dire situation.
Problem was she planned to do it "tomorrow."
If you're like me you've said, or at least thought, the same thing.
"I will do better tomorrow."
"Tomorrow's a new day."
"Let's start over tomorrow."
Three days into a new diet, the temptation for a dark chocolate Milano becomes to much and before you know it you are walking quickly in the wrong direction. You totally blew it with your kids and though you've apologized the guilt of your outburst leaves you sitting in shame and condemnation, as you make deals with yourself to do better next time. The list goes on and on. We encounter some type of tension and under pressure we buckle, cave, maybe burn a bridge. However you want to describe it, ultimately, we've fallen short of who were created to be. We've failed.
Far too many times our failures leave us sitting in shame and condemnation rather than searching for the arms of our Father who longs to walk us toward forgiveness and freedom.
Why do we do this? Why do we prolong forgiveness agreeing to sit in shame and condemnation rather than receive the grace of the Father? It's almost as if we seek to punish ourselves for our actions rather than allow the cross to have been punishment enough. Here's what I think happens. I think a lot of us live with a warped view of how God responds to our failures. I think when we blow i,t we picture Him withdrawing from us, arms crossed, head shaking. Maybe for some of us He is annoyed with our inabilities and irritated by our short comings. For sure He's keeping track, almost like the red light, green light system they use at my daughter's elementary school. We sulk back in shame because the image of our Father is demanding and condemning instead of grace filled and loving.
In the garden, Adam and Eve had a choice. God gave them abundance and yet, they chose scarcity. They faced the no, ate from the tree and just like that, their sin separated them from God.
What God did in the moment of their failure, how He responded to His beloved children is important for us to know. If the God of Adam and Eve in their moment of failure in the garden can be the God we know when we fail it will change the the storyline playing in our heads in our moments of failures. It will also greatly shorten how long it takes us to receive His amazing gift of grace.
God called out for them and then He covered them.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Grace enables a perfect God to be near us in our imperfect sinful state. Grace isn't just the power of forgiveness, it's the power of presence. Grace is how God meets us right where we are, deals with our current state of sinfulness through restoration and redemption.
God found Adam and Eve, He called out to them. He dealt with the issue of their betrayal. There were consequences because our choices aren't without consequences. Adam and Eve broke covenant with God and He is a good Father to follow through with what He said He would do. It's part of why we can trust He is who He says He is. It pained Him to punish them, but their punishment was ultimately their protection as it enabled them to believe Him. Here's what I love; as quickly as He divvied out their consequence, He prepared their covering.
"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them,"
(Gen 2:21, niv.)
God didn't cross His arms and make Himself distant. He didn't shake His head in disbelief, point His finger and insist they brought this on themselves. He came near and reestablished connection. He made garments for them and covered them in their sinful state. He worked to lessen the shame through restoration.
This is the Father I want to know in my place of failure. Not so I can fail more and be without excuse to try. Paul says, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!" (Rom 6:1-2, niv.) His grace isn't our excuse to sin, it's our freedom from sin. If the posture of my heart is centered in the love of God, then at my weakest, He is strong. Often for us giving grace is a choice, at least it is in the beginning. We choose to do this. He actually is this. God is grace. He's full of grace and truth actually (we see this in John 1 when Scripture says, Jesus came from the Father full of grace and truth. Jesus was the exact replication of the Father so we can assume the Father is full of grace and truth.) This therefore isn't something He does, it's something he is. He is the perfect Father, renewing and restoring those who reject Him. He comes to us, runs to us, in the midst of our choices and offers to cover us as we walk through the consequences.
You know what I need covering from?
My human response to my failures. Shame, condemnation, disappointment, depression, oppression. I need Him to cover me so the enemy doesn't destroy me while He points out my nakedness. God's grace brings me in and it's always enough.
I have conversations with people almost every day who live in shame and self condemnation. Whether it be from past failures or present ones, they've decided to spend their life trying to make it up to God, committed to regaining His approval and earning back His trust. They live in a place of continually falling short and constantly trying harder.
Here's where we don't give God enough credit:
He already knew we were going to blow it.
He did. He knew when Adam and Eve chose the apple, He knew what would follow would be an intense struggle of good vs. evil. And He knew we would be limited in our ability to resist. It's why He had a plan. It's why He sent His son. He covered us because He knew we would need it. All of us. Everything. There's nothing you have done or could do that wasn't covered on the cross. Jesus was enough. He was and He is and He always will be. What you can do today, is learn to accept your covering. Not so you can sin more but so you can recover better.
Hiding in fear and punishment is the outcome the enemy wants. The longer he keeps us in this place, the more delayed we are from the joy found in reuniting with the perfect love of our God. As children of a good Father we simply cannot afford to think thoughts about us our Father isn't thinking. That being said, will you stop? Will you let the Good News of the Gospel be Good News every second of your life? In the good, in the bad, in the hard and in the easy - because it's meant for everything and available all the time.
Also, do me a favor, when you see or hear people sitting in shame and condemnation set them free. Remind them of the Good News and help lead them to the covering of their Father.