Once a woman was jogging down a dirt road that wound through the fields of corn and she stumbled upon an eating disorder clinic that caters to the wealthy. She veered off the trail onto a groomed cider track, which she discovered was a twelve-step trail. Signs with motivational slogans such as “expect a miracle” lined the trail. The trail ended at a cemetery of tiny craved grave markers. She stopped to read each grave.
“Here lies my resentment of people” someone had written on a tombstone. Others buried such things as cigarettes, an obsession with chocolate, diet pills, a lack of self-discipline, the need to control others, a habit of lying, alcohol and marijuana. She thought to herself, what do I need to bury?
If there were one spiritual corpse common to us all, is the attitude that our sins and shortcomings put us beyond the reach and concern of God. This unbiblical attitude is quite common. I contacted a colleague who deals with alcoholics and drug addicts. I asked this question: “Have you found that people who live with failure each day, that backsliding draws them further from God or presses them toward God?”
This retired school counselor who has been attending AA for 35 years said that it pushes people toward God. She shared stories about alcoholics and addicts who have done terrible things to themselves and their families. Yet in those moments of weakness they are the very moments when they are likely to turn to God, to cry out in desperation. They have failed terribly. Now what? Can they get up again and walk again, or do they stay paralyzed? Through the grace of God, some of them do get up. In fact, she decided there is one key in determining whether an individual can reach recovery; if they deeply believe they are a forgivable child of God. Not a failure-free child of God but a forgivable one.
Francis de Sales wrote: “Now the greater our knowledge of our own misery, the more profound will be our confidence in the goodness and mercy of God.”
You see what I’m trying to get across? Our failures, do not separate us from the love of God. Our fondness’ for sin, does not force God to give up on us.
My dear fellow sinners, my dear fellow failures, there is much to be buried in the graveyard of our spiritual disorder clinic. You and I know what moral failures need to be entombed forever. Even though we walk in the dark valley of addiction or violence in our hearts and hands, God is there. With rod and staff, he offers possibilities, hope, and a better future.
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends, who believe that the Lord is indeed forever at my side, even in my worst moments. He forever sees not what I have done, but what I can do.