“Brother Lawrence was aware of his sins and was not at all surprised by them.
‘That is my nature,’ he would say, ‘the only thing I know how to do.’”
The Practice of the Presence of God, p. 16
I am so struck by the humility of that statement. And it occurred to me that accepting my humanity to that extent is a constant struggle. There’s a lie in me, built on pride, that says my default should be NOT sinning. As a result, every failure and stumble and sin is a crisis. This is such an insidious and ridiculous lie! My default – as with every other human being who ever lived – is sin.
Sin is the norm. There is no surprise in sin, no mystery. Yet I don’t think that I’m alone in believing the lie, because the whole world is ever in a state of shock or surprise over some scandal or other. Why are we surprised if we truly believe that the sin nature is a reality? Why do we talk about someone having “fallen so far” as if there is an actual pedestal for any human? We’re all sitting at the same table, on the same level. You can’t fall off the bottom, can you?
Brother Lawrence lived 300 years ago, and we’re still reading him today. He was a kitchen aide in a monastery, but people came to see him and meet him and talk to him because his limited little life SHONE with the very presence of God Almighty. And I wonder how much his deep and humble acceptance of who he really was enabled such an extraordinary relationship with God.
“When he sinned, he confessed it to God with these words:
‘I can do nothing better without You. Please keep me
from falling and correct the mistakes I make.’
After that, he did not feel guilty about the sin” (p. 15).
My failure and stumbling – my sin – is not a crisis, and it’s certainly not remarkable. Being a sinner is the default, the ordinary. What is extraordinary in my life – and yours and everyone’s – is Jesus Christ. The indomitable love of God at work in my own limited little life is the great adventure. Every stumble I share with you, every sinful stronghold exposed is not the point: HE is the point. The point is how magnificent and tenderhearted and lovingly stern and uncompromising and mysterious and beautiful He is to me every day.
“For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19b). I am an earthen vessel and so are you. That we are dirt is unsurprising. What is surprising and delightful is what our Potter does with such blocky, unlovely material. How He shapes and molds my clay existence offers a glimpse – to me and to anyone watching – of His great Artist’s heart. That is all that truly matters about my life. What a relief and a joy it is to renounce this prideful lie and embrace my “fearfully and wonderfully made” humanity!