I have a series of people who hold me accountable on a series of things. (See previous post about how I am “prone to wander.”)
One of them is my friend Brewster.
His first name isn’t punky but it’d be awesome if it was.
Punky Brewster could hold me accountable to wearing brightly colored, mismatched clothes and always going on adventures with a dog and an old man. (If you listen closely, you can hear half of the SCL community googling the reference “Punky Brewster.” I am so old. My bones are brittle.)
Brewster and I work out together, which is why I’m huge. And while we work out, we talk about our days and our weeks. When I’ve got fun opportunities on the horizon, I talk about them with Brewster. When I’ve dropped the ball on something, I talk about that with Brewster too.
But recently I noticed something: I prefer to talk about the “highlights” of my life with him. I like to talk about all the good stuff. If I mess up something, I want to get a solid week between me and him so that, by the time I see him, I can say, “Oh, yeah, last week was rough. But that’s way in the past at this point. Whole week ago.”
I like to come to the conversation with a win, not a sin.
And it turns out, I do the same thing to God.
When things have fallen apart, I don’t want to come home to God.
I want to fix things first or, at the very worst, get a good week or month of living between me and whatever it is I’m ashamed of.
I want to come home with a win, not a sin.
The prodigal son isn’t like me though. He was lazy. All he came home with was a plan. He had an idea about how he could have a future win if the father would just make him like one of his hired men. Maybe after a good month on the farm he’d be able to earn his way back to the dinner table.
Me? I’m spending a little more time working in the pig pen. I’m going to work my way up the pig pen corporate ladder. Maybe even make it all the way to Assistant Regional Manager. (Not just Assistant to the Regional Manager.) Then a few weeks or months later, after cleaning myself up, I’d come home and say, “Phew, things were crazy a few months ago, but I’m back to winning again. That sinning thing was a long time ago. Are we cool again dad?”
This is ridiculous for two reasons:
1. My cleanest “wins” are still dirty rags.
I can’t do it. There’s nothing I am capable of alone that will close the gap between me and God. Even when I fool myself into thinking I’m winning, I’m not really winning. In those moments of pride and self righteousness, I am as dirty as ever.
2. Jesus came for the sins, not the wins.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” I don’t know how much clearer Jesus can say it. Jesus was a rescue mission. For the sick. For the sinners. For the pig pen schemers looking for a win. That’s who Jesus is here for.
If you fell, if you’re on the ground because you tripped yourself for the thousandth time, don’t wait for a win until you come home.
Just come home.
Come home with a sin, not a win.
You will not impress God with the wins in your hands, nor shock God with the dirt on your face.
He knew you’d be tempted by both and sent something bigger than both to make sure the road home was open to mess ups like you and me.
Just come home.
Are you ever tempted to come home with a win?