To All Those With Checkered Pasts


Twenty-six years ago my wife Merideth and I were driving away from the church parking lot of the church we'd been attending for a few months when she said something that was so ridiculous it made choke with laughter.

To be fair, I was a smoker then so when I started laughing, I would pretty much start choking, and I'd just lit up a cigarette then. 

I looked over at Merideth and realized she was staring at me with this small smile on her face and her eyes really wide.  It was unnerving.  "What?!" I exclaimed.  "What's wrong?!"  Then she hit me with this:

"You would make a great minister." 

There was no context for this, and no evidence (in my mind) that would lead her to say such a thing to me.  It was ridiculous. It was out of the question.  It deserved the derisive, choking laugh of a smoker. 

Here's what I was thinking:  Leon, old buddy, your past is more checkered than a pair of classic Vans shoes... or a checkerboard... or a checkered quilt... or a... nope, that's all I got.   Plus, there was that period of the last five years or so when you just kind of stopped believing in God... so there's that.  

And because of this, I figured I was disqualified from any kind of Christian service--especially being a pastor.  So I laughed. 

Obviously, despite all of my disqualifications, God seemed to see fit to ruin transform my life and send me off on a path to being a pastor despite my objections.  The other day I read something that made me smile.  It came from a 14th-century book I've been reading, which makes it even cooler:
I believe, too, that often our Lord deliberately chooses to work in those who have been habitual sinners rather than in those who, by comparison, have never grieved him at all.  
How awesome is this?  I know... I know... it's not perfect theology.  There are all kinds of holes in the argument, to be sure.  But still...  To those of us who have struggled with doubts, disbelief, and less than perfect lives... that is pretty good news.  

I'm going to choose to hold on this.  You should, too.  Especially if you have felt like God couldn't possibly use you because of the things you've done, or the things that have been done to you.  If you have felt broken and unusable, rejoice!  God deliberately is seeking you out.  

May this give you joy and hope.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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