“Custard’s last stand.”
That’s what I hear my daughter say while playing in her room with her sisters.
I thought I probably just misheard.
Then I hear it again. Nope. I didn’t get it wrong. “Custard’s last stand.” That’s what she said.
Goodness knows why in the world this subject has even come up at all, but at this point, I pop my head in the room and say, “Custer. Custer’s last stand” and I give them the 30-second history lesson.
My daughter pauses, shrugs and says, “Well, I like to say it my way.”
Now, sometimes this might be cute, funny, or creative, but this time I pipe up with, “But that’s wrong. Custer is an actual person’s name from an actual historical event with an actual way to pronounce it. And it is Custer, not Custard.”
She’s not impressed.
After all, we like the way we do things, don’t we? We’re not generally jumping with joy and feeling all blissful when we’re corrected and asked to change.
She makes me wonder: how often do I shrug my shoulders at the Holy Spirit when He corrects me?
“Well, I like to do it my way.”
Is that what I say?
Is that what we say?
This remarkable, astonishing grace of God covers over the filth of our sin. He drenches us with mercy and washes that grime away.
We are clean. Made new. Totally beloved children of God.
But in our efforts not fall into the pit of legalism, we’ve wobbled and teetered and sometimes crashed onto the other side.
I see it everywhere, the reveling in grace so fantastic that we avoid the call to holiness and sanctification.
The Holy Spirit corrects us and we shut Him down because we like to do things our way.
And, besides, there’s grace. He loves us all equally, right? He can never be disappointed in us, right? He can never love me more or less than He does now, right? He loves all of us sinners just the same, right?
That’s what we say.
But there’s some untruth we’ve mixed in there. Jesus was disappointed with people; He was disappointed in the disciples at times. God was pretty frequently disappointed in Israel.
I’m sure He’s been disappointed in me.
And, while I know He always loves me completely, I also know He’s more pleased when I obey Him than when I disobey Him, and He loves the humble heart, and He is amazed by great faith.
And there’s this:
“but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:16 ESV).
There are countless verses telling me to set myself apart for Him, to obey Him, to turn away from the flesh and all ungodliness, and to choose holiness over continual sinning.
I’ll tell you one thing the Bible does not say: “You’re forgiven and loved by God, so sin all you want without feeling bad about it because God loves you anyway.”
Our conversations about failure have changed in the church. We’ve learned not to hide it away. We’ve stopped pretending we don’t all sin and we’re being open, honest, vulnerable about the shocking fact that we are in fact human, are in fact a mess, and are in fact imperfect and in need of a Savior.
We’ve shattered age-old fake holiness and now point with joy to God’s forgiveness and grace.
Amazing, amazing, amazing grace.
But what then?
Have we begun to glorify failure?
I sat around a table of women and one shared her struggle as we all nodded our heads in agreement. Yes, yes, yes—we do that. We get it. We understand.
And then she does it. She shrugs and says, “But that’s just normal, right?”
Yes, it is normal. But normal isn’t okay.
God calls us out of normal and into holiness.
Do we pursue righteousness in our own strength? Can we make it on our own? If we just try hard enough, do we somehow attain perfection on our own merit?
We are all of us utterly dependent on the redeeming grace of Jesus and completely incapable of earning salvation on our own.
I’m a mess. It’s the plain truth of the matter.
And, I’ll tell you I’m a mess because I never want to act like I’ve got all this figured out or gotten my own self together.
But I’ll tell you something else, every single day: I want to be less mess and more Jesus.
I don’t want to stay rooted in sin because that’s just who I am and God will forgive me anyway.
I want to lean into Jesus more.
I want to respond like Christ, react like Christ, love like Christ, live like Christ .
I’ll get it wrong. We all will.
But sanctification means not giving up the holy pursuit.
It means coming to Christ anew, confessing the sin, starting fresh, trying again….with His help, in His strength, through His grace looking more and more like Jesus every day.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.