Return to the Ground (Friday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
Friday after Ash Wednesday
Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
Theologians for millennia have been fond of the language of “original sin” to describe humanity’s broken condition. Fair enough. The great country parson and poet, George Herbert, once wrote, “I cried when I was born and every day shows why.”[i] There is an unmistakable brokenness in the world. We see it every day in systems embroiled in racism, politics of self-interest, war, poverty, rampant consumerism, and more.
More and more, however, I find myself speaking of original creatureliness. From the dust we came. From the ground we arose. And into this dusty earth God breathed his life-giving Spirit, animating us and lifting us and ennobling us into ambassadorship as his image-bearers. But our origins are humble, nevertheless. We are humus, of the earth, the humble ones.
This original creatureliness is your birthright and greatest gift. It is not a picture of your badness, though. You see, some of us are quite obsessed with feeling bad about ourselves. We may even adopt a theology that emphasizes just how awful we are. One minister even told me, “we need to be reminded of our sinful lowliness every day.” The poor man was one of the crankiest Jesus-followers I’ve ever met.
I don’t know if you recall this, but when God looked upon everything he made he said it was all “very good.” Not mediocre. Not “I could have made their ears look a bit less awkward.” Not “I should have gone with three nostrils.” No…very good! No qualifications. No revisions. He adored what he made.
Our human problem – called “sin” – is that we run from our original creatureliness, we flee our “very good” design. And when we run from it (by trying to become something we’re not) we disrupt and even mock the divine design, with ripple effects throughout the whole world. From Cain’s murder of Abel to racist systems today, sin’s original bite reverberates.
So, here is today’s invitation to you: embrace your creatureliness. Admit your limitations. Acknowledge the ways in which you’ve tried to avoid them. And hear the Spirit whisper to you:
You are enough, just as God created you, just as you are.
Loving God, how can it be that my limitations do not disappoint you? I have lived too long believing that I am not enough and seeking my enoughness elsewhere. But I ask you to enliven my imagination into the extraordinary truth that you embrace every part of me in Jesus. Will you meet me in every limitation I experience? Amen
[i] Quoted in Curtis and Eldredge, The Sacred Romance (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997), p. 23.