When Our Beautiful Mess Isn’t

When Our Beautiful Mess Isn’t


I’m not going to lie. For about a year of my kids’ lives, we listened to almost nothing but The Beatles. As one who was raised on the Beatles by Baby Boomer parents, I always took some satisfaction in hearing all three of my kids belt out “She Loves You” at the top of their lungs while we drive home from school. I still do.

Emerald was about four at the time, and her little preschool Sunday school class happened to be studying Paul’s letters to Timothy during our heaviest Beatles phase. As part of her lesson, she was supposed to write a letter to someone who has taught her something, thanking them. And, here is what she came up with: “Dear Ringo, thank you for a yellow submarine. Love, Emerald.”

Not exactly the “Sunday school answer” her teachers were probably looking for. Thankfully, they all had a great sense of humor and seemed to be somewhat delighted when kids (especially the pastor’s kids) were a little weird.

Despite the fact that four-yearold Emerald was possibly corrupting everyone in her Sunday school class, we really do occasionally listen to Christian music. Just a few days ago, I turned on a Christian radio station in time to hear a soundbyte from one of the DJs: “Just remember, nothing in your past is a mistake….if you learned from it.”

While the electric guitar kicked off the next song, I sat there shaking my head, wondering how it is that this is where mainstream Christianity has landed, in a place where sin is nothing more than “beautiful messiness,” where our pasts have to be declared good in order for us to feel that we can be redeemed from them.

God’s goodness is beautiful. His grace. His redemption. But, our past sin? Our current sin? Ugly. And all a huge, rotten, stinking mistake. If we call it anything else, we are denying our need for a Savior, and we are refusing to live in a posture of repentance and gratefulness for all that God’s love can rescue us from.

Can you imagine David looking at the overwhelming sins of his past and saying that they weren’t mistakes because he learned from them? Instead, he talked about his “broken spirit,” his “broken and contrite heart.” (Psalm 51) We don’t have to live under the condemnation of past sin, but we do need to have a proper view of what our sin means in the gospel story, and we don’t ever need to forget how depraved we really are. Once we start dismissing our past (or current) sin as nothing more than a good learning opportunity, then we have lost sight of how much we need Jesus and how far He had to go in order to redeem us in our sinful state. It should always grieve us to know that we sinned against God, even if He gave us a happy ending despite our disobedience. Anything we glean from past mistakes is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it isn’t a means of justifying what we have done.

We are so desperate to call sin anything else that even our Christian radio stations assure us that there is no such thing as a mistake. Don’t be fooled, friends. Sin is waiting at your door, eager and willing to devour you heart and soul.

We can’t try to turn your sin into a show of you pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, of pride and self-satisfaction.

There is plenty in your past and mine that is a mistake, no matter what we learned from it. Sin is wicked and wounds God’s heart. Let’s not ever let ourselves be lulled into believing otherwise.