Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

There seems to be a tendency to feel either exalted or humbled as I encounter God. On the one hand, God is father-mother, who gave God’s son to the world. Jesus wrapped himself in flesh and let my human skin brush up against mine. He did not recoil in fear of my dirtiness.

But there’s always this overwhelming sense that God is entirely other, ungraspable, untouchable, and separate from me. I am small, weak, and insignificant.

One day I’m floating because of God’s presence in my life. The other day, I feel not much different than the dust I came from. Instead of God’s love being a river of mercy flowing through me, in my wake I’m leaving grave dust. Do I change that much day to day? Am I both a beacon of hope and something that is not much different than an ant scurrying from one scrap of food to the next?

It’s a funny thing, this journey. And I don’t mean to trivialize it at all. How do I explain this…this bafflement over feeling like both a sinner and a saint?

Sometimes the words and actions that well up from inside me point to something so much bigger than me. Wisdom, truth, and beauty saturate the deepest corners so things that were once dead come to life in my hands. I am a city shining on a hill. I am beacon in the darkness.

And at the same time, there are moments of utter despair where insecurities and jealousies and judgments cloud the sky. I feel like everything I touch decays and turns to dust. There is not one good thing in me.

Is that where the truth lies—directly in the middle between the two? Am I saint and sinner both?

And maybe that’s where humility checks pride, right on that razor’s edge. I get to experience the knowledge that my best works are only ever dirty rags…but infused with the scent of Jesus my dirty rags become a healing balm to a hurting world. Connected to the vine, the life-giving sap flows through my hands and feet. This picture is one of continual constant connection to the Source of love. But when I treat the Source more like a gas pump, coming in to touch base and then careening off to do what needs to be done…that image speaks of separateness. I come back only when I am burned out, exhausted, and running on fumes.

Maybe this is another work of humility. Humility keeps me always in the presence of God—this love truly isn’t something I can sustain on my own. I am a sinner in need of constant connection to the Creator. I don’t get lost in my own beauty because the connection reminds me that it’s not me, but Christ in me.

But when I forget the connection, when I forget the Christ-in-me…

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

And so it ebbs and flows…a constant need, a constant rebirth.

But here’s something else. Maybe God finds joy in my rebirthing. He finds joy in the process of me learning to return to him again and again, for the new awakenings and the re-awakenings. He is not baffled, exhausted, or frustrated with me learning the same things over and over again. Because each time there is a deeper connection, there is more of God and less of me. It’s slow, as most journeys are (at least to my human-ness). But this is where God is. God is in the journey with me, patiently holding my hand, as a mother holds the hand of a child learning to walk. When I let go and run and fall, God comes and scoops me up, holding and comforting me. God knows this is a journey. God sees the dangers and pitfalls and the places I’ll soar—yet, neither surprise or exasperate God. God just delights.

God sees me as I am—sinner and saint.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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