about innocence and brokenness

As you wrap up your work week, I want to leave you with a couple of thoughts about what we believe about God.

This week I had the opportunity to train on a new ropes course in one of the school districts that Teen Lifeline serves. First of all, it was such a great opportunity to spend a couple of days with teachers and counselors from around the district learning this creative way to reach teenagers. Secondly, there were parts of the course that kicked my tail. I guess they call it a challenge course for a reason!

The one that really got to me was the element titled “Mohawk Traverse”. Essentially this was about a 50 foot long guide wire separated by 4-5 short telephone poles. This guide wire was only about a foot off the ground so height wasn’t an issue, but that wasn’t the challenge to overcome. The challenge was to balance your way across the wire staying connected to three other folks.

And you know what? We did pretty good. For a while.

Then fatigue and frustration set in. I took the lead position so everyone was dependent on me to call out instructions and keep our group moving forward. Yet about 30 minutes into the exercise I felt my concentration and focus wane a but. Then my physical body started wearing down. Then, I totally lost my confidence. After a while I was consistently the one who lost balance and took the team down.

While I know this is simply a challenge course and there are no real far reaching consequences for failure, I felt like a genuine failure because I was the weak link.

I had to admit that I was tired and struggling with my focus. I had to admit defeat.

One of the song lyrics on the new Andrew Peterson record (Don’t you want to thanks someone”, entitled “Light for the Lost Boy” goes like this:

“Maybe it’s a better thing to be more than merely innocent, but to be broken and redeemed and by love” 

Stop a second and read that line again. Take your time.

It’s really genius, isn’t it?

Because in my moment where I admitted defeat on the ropes course and accepted that I didn’t have enough to make it, I leaned into the hope that my group would accept me and share some affinity with my weakness. And, you know what? That is just what happened.

Yet, we struggle to believe this about God. We want to be innocent. We don’t want to admit guilt or failure.

James states something quite different in his epistle. Innocence isn’t his endgame. He is going for something much better.

“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16

Healing and forgiveness come when we lay claim to who we really are. We aren’t innocent. We are not clean.

We are broken. We are frail. We break down.

We don’t need to lay claim to innocence anymore. Let’s shoot for something much, much better than that.

How have you struggled to believe this? How has confession looked in your life?

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