I'm a mess.
At the heart of it all, I am selfish, prideful and vain. I screw up constantly: I lose my patience with my kids, I lose my patience with my spouse. I let busy-ness take over my life to the point that I find myself lost in the shuffle. I lie sometimes.
I have skeletons in my closet that would love to claim me. I have some seriously big past mistakes. I have some seriously big present mistakes too, actually.
I have good ideas and do "good things" and then I want credit and praise and recognition for them. So much for selflessness.
But today, Christians recognize the day Jesus died on the cross. He was perfect. He wasn't a mess. He loved people and he made no mistakes. He never lied, he never messed up.
And, knowing that it was MY punishment, my well-deserved punishment, Jesus volunteered for my cross. He took all of the wrath of God that was intended for me. Every bit of it that I have earned with my selfishness, my vanity, my pridefulness. I am so far from perfect and yet the one who was perfect bore my punishment. He took on my shame and left me free.
That leaves me speechless. And tearful. And grateful.
And it's given as a gift. No strings attached. There is nothing I can do to earn Jesus' approval or his love. It is given freely. He already died on the cross. It's done. I am forgiven, even before I make the mistake.
This, my friends, is the heart of my life. I don't follow Jesus for any reason other than this: He has done more for me than I could ever imagine. He has made it so that I can have a relationship with God. I'm too broken, too messy, to interact with the Holy, Perfect, Creator of the Universe. So Jesus steps in and God sees me through Him. Because of Jesus, God sees me as holy and blameless. I can stand before him without fear.
It doesn't mean I have life figured out. It doesn't mean I'm done making mistakes. But I've given my heart to God and he's slowly, sometimes painfully, re-shaping it to look more like his.
Beauty from ashes. I am so grateful.