On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, I am a 6.4 driver – on a good day. At least that is the joke that a few of my friends and I run with. Really…it’s not that I am that bad of a driver, it’s just that I get terribly distracted. The moment the light turns red, I am gazing at every corner side attraction in a mesmerized trance, often earning a honk from the irritated driver behind me for not noticing the shift to green. And that’s not to mention the distraction that I face as I pass through a subdivision and carefully examine all the front porch details of houses or times that I cruise through commercial areas trying to window shop.
You also ought to know that I am a terribly responsible person. Nothing gets to me more than having an “irresponsible” moment where I know I should be better at something. So it really kills me to admit that I’m not a level 10 driver, as a “responsible” person should be.
This weekend I found myself driving home when I got hit with an incredible pang of hunger. I knew I needed to act fast before a full on “hangry” spell came over me. I locked eyes on a Subway sign, decided that was as good as it was going to get, and switched into the right lane to make the turn into the parking lot. As I approached the entrance, I slowed the car, turned the wheel, and felt my whole body jolt as my tires climbed over some sort of mound. It didn’t take long for me to register what had happened- I had popped my tire.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first encounter with a curb. So at this point, I was creating a record for myself. And as the responsible person that I am, my mind was running rampant with the thoughts of disappointment that I would cause people, the label of “bad driver” that I would get further stamped on myself, and how angry I was with myself for letting this happen. I was distraught at the thought that I was going to have to call someone and admit my weakness and ask for help.
But the Lord, in His goodness, led me to call someone who didn’t meet me with the correction I feared, but with nothing but kindness and encouragement – someone who calmed me of my anxiety and reminded me that I didn’t have to wear the shame-filled name of “bad driver,” because I was more than my mistakes.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians reminds me a little bit of my circumstance this weekend. The church at Colossae had drifted from the truth of the Gospel that Epaphras had taught them. What could have been a harsh conversation from Paul to the Colossians to lay down the hammer and get them back on track was instead met with truth. Paul could have emphasized his disappointment in the church, ushering them to correct their weaknesses- but instead he reminds them of their identity as saints, regardless of their mess-ups, and meets them with grace.
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae, grace to you and peace from God our Father (Colossians 1:2)
He goes even further to celebrate this broken body:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. (Colossians 1:3-5)
Isn’t that crazy? Paul is writing to these people who are getting it wrong and falling away, but he doesn’t choose to focus on that.
He focuses on grace.
He focuses on their unchangeable identity.
He focuses on his thankfulness for them.
Just as Paul is greeting the church, so the Lord greets us. He wants us to be assured that in our weakness, we are His saints. He wants us to know that his wish is for nothing less than for us to be met with His abundant grace and peace, regardless of the offense. He wants us to know that he celebrates us. That He is thankful for us.
What would it look like if we really believed that every time we met the Lord in our weakness, this is what He longed to tell us? It sure would save me a lot of tears on the side of the road.
So as we begin to study the book of Colossians together, as we allow the Word to have the power to correct us in our weakness and wrongdoing, my prayer over you is just as Paul’s was to the church in Colossae:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.