“I generally avoid playing Monopoly. Not just Monopoly, but any board game that includes the kind of setbacks like “Go to Jail” that will take you back to the first step of the contest. Many of us spend our spiritual lives under the oppression of a board-game suite of rules. We allow our missteps to immobilize us. A momentary collapse or indiscretion becomes a destination instead of a delay in our path to follow. One of the greatest challenges of the nomadic journey involves grasping the truth that our shortcomings, our failings, and our mess-ups do not send us back to our basements, our storage spaces, our cells.” – Holy Nomad “Pitfalls of the Journey”
The type of “Go to Jail” spirituality that I wrote about in Holy Nomad is part of familiar but dangerous misconception that we are simply not good enough to play a part in God’s plan… which is an enormous, debilitating lie.
Quickly consider the people we call “heroes” of the Biblical narrative:
Abraham was often motivated by fear – even to the point of lying about his wife; Moses was certainly not courageous when he murdered a soldier and fled Egypt, or when he pleaded with God to find someone more qualified to speak with the Pharaoh. Jonah ran away from God’s message; Esther had no intention of marrying a king and feared for her own well-being; and Elijah, a man who witnessed God bring down fire from the sky, was quick to run and hide in a cave when the chips were down.
It is interesting to consider how ordinary, unexceptional, incapable, and sometimes, downright contemptible they seemed in their respective journeys.
And then we arrive at the genealogy in the book of Matthew. Look closely at the stories of the people included in Jesus’ family tree and we find liars, adulterers, murderers, a prostitute, and people who were quite “disreputable.”
Whenever we feel that we are too broken or just too “messed up” to fit into God’s plans — we only need open up to the pages of the Bible.
There we find THE most important characters in the Story of redemption are never strangers to disgrace.
It sure appears that God might prefer to use “messed up” people, the spiritual JV team, the outsiders, the folks that would never fit in at church.
To put it plainly, the Bible is the greatest reminder that, unlike us, God is never as concerned with where we have been or what we have done as he is with where we are going. I guess it isn’t that we are too flippant about sin; maybe we don’t take God’s forgiveness serious enough.
There is great comfort in opening the Scriptures to find that it’s most prominent characters all came out of lives full of scandal and transformed the world around them simply by their willingness to follow.