This morning when I arrived at the church, I was greeted by a young woman from the neighborhood that I had seen before, but didn’t really know. She was sitting on a bench outside the front door, and when I asked if she needed help, she said, “Pastor, I need help like nobody’s business.”
I appreciated her frankness, and as I settled down on the bench next to her, I asked what was going on. She replied by telling me that last night DHS came and took her kids from her. It happened because she struggles with addiction, and the result is that she spends all her money on drugs, leaving nothing for food. A neighbor complained to DHS about her lack of care for the kids - and the next thing she knew, they were knocking on her door to get her kids. And with tears running down her face, she finished with, “Pastor, I messed up real bad this time.”
Her story broke my heart - and reminded me of how powerful Satan’s influence is in this world. But His influence isn’t just in the high-poverty communities of this world - it’s everywhere. And what I told my new friend was that she was in good company, because we’ve all made poor choices and bad decisions. The world is full of people who have made decisions that could cost them their friendships, jobs, marriages, families, and reputations. And that includes me - and everyone reading this devotional. We’ve all messed up.
But, the good news that I shared with the young woman this morning is that, if we’re willing to admit we’ve messed up, we’re prime candidates for an encounter with Jesus. In fact, He specializes in ministering to messed-up people. And that's one of the many things I love about Jesus - He gravitates toward those who are usually ignored, ridiculed, hated and rejected because they’ve messed up.
A great example of what I’m talking about is found in John 4:13-15, where Jesus encounters a woman at a well, and tells her: “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” And the woman replies: “Please, sir, give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again.”
This nameless woman had a messed-up life. But then she runs into Jesus while doing one of the most mundane tasks - getting water out of a well. And she quickly learned a lesson we all need to know as well - the mundane can become momentous when we let Jesus clean up our mess-ups, and radically change our lives. We live in a culture that teaches us to hide our mess-ups, and call them anything except the sins that they are. But Jesus tells us that He will forgive us when we are willing to confess our sin to Him. Jesus is not intimidated by our past. He sees beyond our failures and offers us a faithful future. We can’t do anything so bad that it will cause God to love us less.
Folks, no matter what we’ve done, or how much we’ve messed up, we must hold on to the truth that Jesus is so serious about rescuing and restoring us, that He left heaven and came to earth for us. So today, let’s take time to meet with Jesus. Let’s bring Him our mess-ups, and allow Him to clean us up - like only He can do.