When I was little, one of my favorite things to do during Christmas was to wrap my family’s gifts in disguised boxes. Sometimes it would be a dog treat box or Quaker brown sugar oatmeal. It really didn’t matter what it was. I just didn’t want them to know what was inside. I think a small part of my naive, 8-year-old self really believed that my mom or sister would open their gift on Christmas morning thinking they were receiving oatmeal as a gift. Truthfully, oatmeal probably would have been better than the odd, 50 cent gifts that I picked out from the school Santa Shop with the sketchy toys all lined up on plastic tables. But each time, they opened the gift and responded with “surprise” and excitement for the trinket that was at the bottom. I’m telling you guys, my family had to deal with some JUNK over the years. Spider yo-yos, dog figurines, clumpy chapstick, plastic ornaments, and more. But they proudly used and displayed those items after Christmas, despite the junky-ness of it all (except for the spider yo-yo… that ended up in the bottom of my sister’s closet and I still haven’t fully recovered).
The thing is, I do this a lot. I think we all do if we’re being honest. We try to present a version of ourselves to God that’s different than who we are. A version that masks our mistakes and our shortcomings and our humanness. We really think we can fool God into thinking that there’s no junk hiding inside of us. No tarantula yo-yos or stupid ornaments. No pride or selfishness. We don’t want him to know that it’s there. But what I’ve realized over the past many years and what I continue to realize is that God already knows. And the best part- He doesn’t love us any less because of the junk inside. He knows each and every intricate part of our lives and our hearts. He sees it all and His response is basically this: if we come to Him with our weaknesses and cheap gifts, He will proudly display them by turning them into something that will glorify Him and impact others.
I have been humbled to see how God can use my junky trinkets- the parts of my life that I have wanted so strongly to wrap up in a neat little box forever and pretend weren’t actually there. But it eventually came to a point where I handed over all of the 50 cent rubbish and said, “okay God. Here you go. If you’re God then do something.”
And He did. He did something. He welcomed those pieces and started to make something out of them that was purposeful. And he continues to do it as I bring him more and more sub-par knick-knacks. And if you bring God your struggles, your sin habits, and your screw-ups, I promise you that He will do it for you too. And it’s not just that he will do it--- He will do it with ABSOLUTE JOY. God desires to transform our hearts and to continue to change us into people who are more and more like Jesus each day.
If there’s a voice in your head right now that sounds like this: “But she doesn’t realize the kind of past you have. She doesn’t realize what you do when no one else is watching. She doesn’t know about the ways you have hurt people. What you have done is probably so much worse”…. Can I just tell you that that talk is STRAIGHT FROM THE ENEMY. The enemy wants us to think that we are beyond forgiveness, beyond repair, and beyond help. But the truth can set us free. Here’s what God’s Word says about that:
Psalm 103:10-14 – He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for His mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west.
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 — But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
So today, let’s be a people who come to God in our struggles. Let’s be honest with Him about the scary parts of our past and our present. And after we do that, let’s ask Him to make something new and better with all those pieces and pray that it would all be for His glory. And in the meantime --- we don’t have to pretend to be oatmeal or dog biscuits or anything else.
And THAT my friends, is good news.