Music has always been a huge motivating force for me. Gloria Estefan sang a hit song declaring “The rhythm is gonna get you,” and while I’d agree that a catchy beat or even a beautiful melody is mesmerizing, the lyrics are what really get me. Words are so powerful.
Music often serves as the backdrop of our lives. At work, in the car, at home going about our daily routines, or even in church, we may hear a song dozens of times before we actually process the words.
Recently, while my favorite Christian radio station was playing in the background — I don’t recall what I was doing or where I was going — suddenly the background became the foreground as these words connected to my heart:
If I didn’t know what it hurt like to be broken,
then how would I know what it feels like to be whole?
If I didn’t know what it cuts like to be rejected, then I wouldn’t know the joy of coming home.
If I didn’t know what it looked like to be dirty, then I wouldn’t know what it feels like to be clean
If all of my shame hadn’t drove me to hide in the shadow,
then I wouldn’t know the beauty of being free.
Maybe it’s OK, if I’m not OK
Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s alright, if I’m not alright
Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life
Father, let your kingdom come, let your will be done
Here, in my heart as in heaven…
Sometimes I beat myself up relentlessly over personal failures. At my age, knowing God my whole life and promising to serve him since I was 16, I feel like I should be wiser and not be making mistakes by now. I have a hard time accepting that my track record since that promise isn’t stellar. (I know, ridiculous.)
Here’s the key. I say that I’ve known God my whole life, but maybe it’s taken me this long to really know me. Only after I fully realize my own weaknesses and vulnerabilities can I grasp the mercies and grace of God. That’s why the words to this song that particular day shone through my cloudy thinking. It reminded me it was OK to be not OK within myself for certain chapters in my life if it drives me closer to the only One able to keep that which I committed to Him and to know He holds my whole life in His hands.
Recently in church we sang, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” and one of our ministers spoke after the song to remind us that we brought nothing to this friendship, but He brought everything because He loved us while we were yet sinners.
I recalled another time this same brother shared how violently sick his young daughter was once. So much so that she was unable to do anything but sit and cry in her mess. As he and his wife scrambled in clean-up mode, he felt such pity and love for her and realized that’s how God sees us, sitting in our own messes, but He lovingly cleans us up and nurses us back to health. The clean-up process happens many times throughout our lives, not just through the initial cleansing we experience at baptism.
Personal failure is part of a constant battle we endure while we are still in the flesh. The apostle Paul wrote about this (Romans 7:15-25) describing conflicting actions within himself. This man of God’s testimony on the road to Damascus is perhaps one of the most incredible conversions ever recorded, yet he confesses weaknesses — “Oh, wretched man that I am” — and deliverance only through Christ.
I stumbled across this quote that wraps all these thoughts up for me:
“I have given Christ countless reasons not to love me. None of them changed His mind.”
Knowledge of my own weaknesses shouldn’t derail me but instead solidify my faith and hope in Jesus, who will never leave me broken, lost, or dirty. In Him, I can also experience the incredible joy of feeling whole, clean, and free.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.