A Long Way OffFebruary 27, 2014
As anyone will likely tell you, each semester at Liberty has seemed to pass faster than the last. I can’t believe we’re nearing halfway through the spring semester, and I definitely can’t believe I am nearing halfway through my time at Liberty. Just to give you a quick glimpse - here’s what the last few weeks have been like:
The beginning of this semester was incredibly hectic - I had a string of debate tournaments, classes to catch up on, work to do, and I was struggling to keep it all in balance. Over Christmas break, I had some serious conversations with God about reorganizing my priorities and keeping Him at the center of my life. But when I got back to school, keeping Him at the center became harder and harder as other things vied for my undivided attention. What frustrated me the most, though, was that I felt like such a failure - like every time I made right with God, I messed up again. It felt like I was still so far away from God and was constantly having to repent and start the process over again.
But in the process of this turmoil, I watched Kyle Idleman speak at Convocation on Wednesday. (Watch it here, it's incredible.) His message hit me hard- I had been so focused on how God could use me in debate, at school, and in the world at large, that I was not focusing on what still needed to be done in me. But one small line of the passage Kyle read from hit me even harder- “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
I was floored.
In our world of sound byte sermons and 30-second testimonies, one thing I struggle with the most is that I keep messing up. My testimony is not an open and shut case. I’ve hit the floor, crying and confessing and convicted, a million times. It’s not that I don’t learn or that it’s not genuine. It’s that I’m not perfect, and I keep messing up. I’m still a long way off. And that’s why that rather insignificant part of the verse hit me so hard - while he was still a long way off, his Father ran to him. He didn’t wait until he had gotten himself together. He didn’t wait until he had fixed all his mistakes once and for all. He didn’t even wait for him to finish his walk of shame back to his parent’s house. He was so filled with compassion at the sight of his son’s choice to come back to him that he ran to him.
My perfectionist self is slowly coming to grips with the reality that I’m not going to have it all together so long as I live on this earth. Like Kyle preached, there are times I need to be faced with the sin I’m ignoring and be convicted to the point of tears in order to shake my complacent and selfish attitude and wake up to the reality of my depravity and the depth of His unfailing Grace. And that needs to happen a lot more than once. But I can rest in the assurance that my Father loves me enough to come running while I'm still a long way off.
I hope and pray that everyone is surviving the semester, and keeping His promises at the center of their hectic schedules!