Our mess-ups and God’s grace

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When we moved from Atlanta to Milledgeville when I was 9, we finally joined a church and some members were also neighbors. They invited the Chancey boys over to eat. They had three daughters and we had three boys at the time.

We ate at the picnic table, hamburgers and French fries. As we partook, I spilled my tea and it ran across the table, right into the lap of their 4-year-old, who started crying. Her sister ran into the house announcing, “David spilled his tea and Gina’s crying.” I was so embarrassed.

The mom came out and wiped everything up, poured more tea and went back inside and … somehow, I spilled my tea again, this time onto Gina’s plate, soaking her French fries. The middle daughter ran back into the house announcing my goof-up. I could tell the Mom was frustrated. Remember, we’d just met these people.

I tried to be so careful, but the pressure was on and I knocked my cup over a third time. I wanted to disappear.

Years later, this lady became my ninth-grade English teacher. She was a great teacher and, thankfully, never mentioned my spills and I didn’t either.

We mess up at times, don’t we? We use poor judgment and learn from our mistakes, but sometimes we rebel against God’s will and God’s way. That’s sin, and that’s where we find a woman Jesus encountered in John 4.

Pastor Kyle Idleman called this meeting between Jesus and the woman at the well a beautiful collision. He wrote, “When a broken, busted and wrecked life collides with Jesus, it’s a beautiful thing.” (Grace is Greater, 36).

When this woman met Jesus at Jacob’s well, she came to get literal water for her physical thirst, but Jesus offered her Living Water for her spiritual thirst. Her life had a void she attempted to fill with relationship after relationship that didn’t work out. After five husbands, Jesus told her that the man she currently lived with was not her husband.

Jesus knew she wasn’t perfect just as He knows we’re not perfect. He didn’t come to die for perfect people, but for imperfect people. In Mark 2:17, Jesus said,

“… it’s not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Despite imperfections, Jesus loves us anyway. His grace chased this woman to a well in the hottest part of the day. His grace chases us because He loves us.

Sometimes people mistakenly think that Jesus doesn’t want anything to do with them, yet Jesus went out of His way to spend time with this woman. He confronted her sin and gently pointed her towards the solution to her problem, Living Water that quenches spiritual thirst.

Others mistakenly think their mistakes are greater than God’s grace. I sometimes hear people say, “I’ve gone too far. Jesus will never forgive me for what I’ve done.” Yet, God promises forgiveness when we confess and repent (I John 1:9, Acts 3:19).

After preaching one Saturday night, Kyle Idleman stood at the front and a man came and asked for prayer. He had been crying and was still emotional.

“My wife left me. It’s my fault. I’ve done some really stupid things. I haven’t treated her the way she deserves. She tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen. Would you pray God would forgive me and my wife will forgive me?

“I’m ready to make some changes, but I’m not sure that God will want me after the mess I’ve made of things.”

This man assumed his mistakes were greater than God’s grace. Idleman prayed for God’s intervention in their marriage, and that the man would know that God was ready to help.”

Sunday morning, Idleman again stood at the front after the sermon when two women came to him. They were sisters and one was clearly upset. She asked for prayer for her husband and their marriage. She wanted God to soften his heart because she didn’t think he cared any longer. Idleman connected the dots and shared her husband came last night asking God for help and wanted to save his marriage.

Both assumed God had given up on them and it was too late. They discovered, by God’s grace, it’s never too late to correct a mistake, and with God’s help, we can overcome the mess we make of our lives.

[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, near McCurry Park, and invites you to Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 this Sunday. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org.]