The rain was coming down, and I had several boxes to unload. I pulled up next to the back door of the Church and began to take the items up the old concrete steps into the copy room. Soon the steps were wet, and on my third or fourth journey down those stairs, I slipped. My feet went up in the air, and my back hit the concrete with a thud. As my body quickly adjusted for the impact and I had actually positioned myself to roll down the steps. One hit moved my body to the side, and I turned over as I tried to stop from moving farther down the steps. My readjustment caused me to slide on my back down another six steps or so. Finally, I hit the landing with missing skin, certain bruises on my back and pain all through my body. Without thinking, I yelled a four letter word that no preacher should ever say.
Suddenly a thought went through my brain. Was anyone else in the Church? Did anyone hear me yell that? Sure enough, someone else was in the building, but if she heard me, she never said a word. Maybe it was because I hobbled around the Church like I was looking for an emergency room. She asked if I was okay and then we laughed about my clumsiness. Well, she laughed, I half heartedly moaned.
I went back toward my vehicle through the auditorium. I stopped and asked God for three things. One, I hope nothing is broken. I can’t afford an injury. Two, please forgive me. God, I need your grace. Three, Lord, please do not let me own sinfulness ruin my ministry.
Those three prayers have been repeated in my life over and over.
First, I still cannot afford to be injured or sick in any way.
Second, “God forgive me” is my daily prayer. I need his grace every day.
Three, I fear that my sinfulness will ruin my ministry. I am sinful and stupid beyond measure. I have thought things inappropriate and sometimes let them slip. My theology has had flaws that I now see clearly. I have misled people, not on purpose, but in the naivety of youth. My tongue has betrayed me, and my heart is a real problem. The days I seem to get it right, I am filled with pride, yet another trespass against God. Sin is always knocking and in moments of weakness I have open the door. Like with all sin, I live with regret and remorse over the actions I see in myself every stinking day.
I tell you always to remind you that your preacher is working out his faith just like you are doing. He is flawed and sinful. He needs God’s grace. He also needs yours.
The truth is that everyone needs grace. God’s and yours. If preachers are supposed to be close to God, and they are so messed up (and believe me, we are), then this is true of everyone. Each one of us has moments of weakness that could destroy us and our witness for Jesus. Grace and forgiveness flow from the throne of God into the lives of his followers and finally out of our hearts to the people around us. I need other people’s mercy in my life, and so do you.