“Wretched man that I am!”  Paul wailed, surrendering to his powerlessness. “Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?”

 

And then. More forceful than the fear, stronger than the shame. A lament that through the power of something as unfathomable as a rugged wooden cross becomes a song of praise.

 

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

 

Desperate Love
I wonder if any of us, really, can deny for long our failure of faith. Like all believers — Paul, Peter, David, Ted, you, me — each of us who choose this painful pursuit of peace will no doubt find ourselves wrapped in a wrestling match with God, destined to walk with a limp. The biblical admonition to “Be perfect as Christ is perfect” is frequently misinterpreted. When considered in context as part of the larger sermon, these words are not a call to perfection. Jesus was in His sermon calling us to imitate God’s compassion, His very Spirit.   He calls us to join our hearts in song… a soul-song, faint yet familiar, leading us toward an open door and a warm hearth and healing embrace… being Christ to each other.

 

As reported by the Associated Press, Haggard faced tearful followers. "The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality,” he said. “And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."

 

Only God knows if Ted is sincere; confession is sometimes the only thing left to us once we’re caught in sin. But the family of Christ sometimes gets it right.

 

"We all love him because he's a part of our family,” said one church member following Haggard’s confession. “You don't just throw away a sister or a brother. Desperately, we love him, and we wouldn't be here if we didn't."

 

Desperately, we love…

 

Like children to our Father, we cry out for Grace. Grace in the rain, the pain, the loving and losing, the hurt and healing, the sun and the storm. Grace descending when God seems most distant, a graceful faith that His hand is on both birth and death, love and lust, loss, joy and gentleness, the crime and the cancer and the compulsion, the laughter and the tears, a saving grace even when the God of all giving inexplicably takes away. Grace for a wounded world engaged in war between horror and hope, and faith that Christ nonetheless exists as a soft, still and sure place.

 

We’re only human, you know — satisfied or hungry, full of joy or full of fear, aching for Jesus or just plain aching.

 

Let he who is without sin….

 


See also "When Pastors Fail to Practice what they Preach," by Ray Pritchard.