I've always had the idea that God can only use people who have clean slates. After all, most people in ministry don't go around announcing their struggles and sins. Sure, they may share their pasts, but to share the present is too risky. It's easy to see these people as super-spiritual...with some form of Godliness the rest of us can't attain. But the truth is we all fail, every day, in some way. And God uses every single second of our lives for His purpose.
It's we who fail to recognize Grace and Mercy; therefore, we fail to surrender to Him and His purpose.
It's only been within the last month that I've begun to understand that God actually works IN our messes. I guess I've held the idea that God can take the messes we make and use them for good once they're in our pasts. I've somehow believed that He sits back and watches us make our messes, and only intervenes to clean them up. But what if He's working amidst an alcoholic's drunken rage? What if He's working amidst a thief's late night schemes? What if He's working amidst a spouse's betrayal? What if He's working amidst a family's conflict?
I'm not dare suggesting that God causes our messes, or that He approves, but I am suggesting that He is capable of working right in the middle of them. He doesn't have to wait until we've cleaned up and put our past in testimony form before He can use us.
God was working when...
Jonah was running,
Peter was denying,
Abraham was lying,
David was murdering.
I think we feel like our lives have to be as close to picture perfect as possible before God can use us. But I'm learning that picture perfect rarely happens unless the photographer edits, removing imperfections. Are we editing our struggles and daily failures, pretending that our imperfections don't exist, denying that God can use them for our good and His glory? Certainly God doesn't edit a single second of our lives. He doesn't erase the ugly; He uses it. He loves to jump in the ugly with us and cover us with Grace and Mercy.