The Stupidest Thing I Ever Did
If I’m being honest, I’ve done a lot of stupid things over the course of my life.
There’s the time I broke my arm while riding a bike and shooting a cap gun at the same time (on my 13th birthday no less!). There’s the time I decided to jump out of my tree house while holding an umbrella after watching Mary Poppins (and no, I didn’t float down to the ground like Julie Andrews). And, of course, there’s the time I invited three different women to be my prom date (if you’d like to hear more about this story, I’ll need at least an hour of your time to explain it all).
While those are some of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, none of them earn the honor of being called *the* stupidest thing I ever did because that honor is reserved for something far more damaging than broken arms or broken hearts.
The stupidest thing I ever did was believe that Jesus didn’t love me.
That may sound funny coming from a lifelong Christian and current minister, but trust me, it’s not. For too long, I allowed my insecurities and guilt to fool me into thinking that Jesus didn’t love me. That I was too sinful, screwed up, and imperfect to be loved by a perfect and holy God.
So, what does one do to try and fix this problem? They try to fix it themselves, of course! When I felt as though God wasn’t pleased with who I was or what I was doing, I’d devote myself to doing as many good things as possible. When the church doors were open, or there was a ministry opportunity somewhere in the community, you can bet that I was there.
But did my works save me from this wretched feeling? Nope. How about my attendance? Not a chance. No matter what I did, I still felt as though I hadn’t done enough to cover up my mistakes and imperfections and because of that, Jesus would still have a reason to withhold His love from me.
If you’re like me, it’s easy to feel defeated when you can’t fix something on your own. After all, we’re taught from an early age that we can do anything! But what happens when you can’t? And what happens when that disappointment mingles together with your insecurities and guilt? It creates the perfect cocktail of hopelessness – one that we drink from far too often.
After searching for whatever it was I could do to earn God’s love, I came to realize and accept an incredibly hard truth: there’s nothing we can do on our own to make Jesus love us.
That’s not because it’s impossible for us to be loved by Jesus, but because we cannot earn something that is only Jesus’ to give. Yet instead of making us beg and plead in order to earn His love, Jesus does something that continues to make my head spin. He gives us His love as a free gift – one that we do not deserve and one that we cannot do anything on our own to earn.
Instead of trying to earn something that I could never attain on my own, I just have to accept what Jesus offers me with a gracious and receptive spirit. And what He gives us is nothing to scoff at. It’s not some watered down, pity love that’s supposed to make us feel better about being sinful screw-ups.
No, it’s far more than that. It’s a love which totally and completely covers and washes away all of our sins, mistakes, and imperfections. It’s a love which lifts us up, not holds us down. It’s a love which draws us closer and closer to the One who we once believed was far off and removed from us.
What Jesus lavishes upon you, me, and everyone else is an amazing, eternal, and reckless love which raises all who believe in it to new life. And that new life isn’t defined by what we do to continue earning Jesus’ love. It’s defined by how well we rest in the truth that, “…neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
I’m convinced that I’ll continue to do stupid things for the rest of my life. But thanks to the love I’ve received from Jesus Christ, I’ll never spend another day doubting whether or not He loves me for who I am. And neither should you.