The first time I got up to speak about Jesus in front of a group of impressionable minds is one of the worst memories I have.
At 20 years old, I was hired as a youth pastor at a traditional church. No one introduced me, no one told the kids I was showing up that day. I was the only
adult person over 12 years of age in the youth group trailer.
I had my traditional church khakis and button-up shirt on. I may have even had a tie on, which complemented the slowly spreading nervous sweat stains plaguing my underarms. But that’s not the reason my first lesson as a youth pastor is a terrible memory that shapes how I teach still today.
The four seventh-grade girls who were my students that morning kept whispering on the couch as I delivered my overly-rehearsed message. After the lesson was over I finally demanded they tell me what the big secret was. One of the girls gave in, but warned me that I might not like what I hear. I noted her caution, then she told me that the entire time I was standing in front of this couch of four girls my fly had been open.
(Let me pause here and ask you a question: Is there any possible way to still look cool when everyone in the room knows you need to pull your zipper up? Is there a smooth way of performing that task? If you could help me out with that, I know many people who would be very grateful. )
So now I check my fly at least 47 times before I get up to teach. If a pair of pants starts getting lazy in regard to keeping the zipper all the way up, I burn them immediately.
My past experience controls the way I act in certain situations now. I wished that I could go back in time and duct tape, staple, and weld that zipper in its northernmost position, but I couldn’t.
My past has a way of doing that to me- of haunting me and keeping me from freely pursuing what I have going on right then. For example, I’ve messed up plenty of times this week. Now I don’t feel holy enough to write about faith. Surely as you sneak reading this post in class or at work, you know just how much of a worm I am.
I usually don’t feel Holy. I usually feel like crap.
But here’s the thing: I don’t make me holy. God does.
This is something I’m pretty sure I’ll always struggle with. The main reason it’s hard to accept is because I forget who God is when I’m not spending time with Him.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. -1Tim1:15-16
I’m not keeping God from looking good. His saving me is what makes him good.
So whatever moments you have that are totally regrettable, whatever stories you have that end in shame or tragedy, God uses those to show off. He loves you. Even when you know you’re the worst kind of person, He loves you.