Last week, I experienced a moment of revelation as I was riding in my friend’s car. Two cyclists were taking up the whole lane as my friend patiently drove behind them for a half mile before the opportunity came to pass. My friend handled the situation beautifully, giving them plenty of room and without uttering a single negative thought. At the same time, my blood pressure was rising and I wondered to myself, “Why won’t these bozos pull over?” It was probably best that I was not behind the wheel.
This incident revealed to me some ugliness inside of me, pulling back the curtain on the peevishness and irritable entitlement that lurks in my heart. Perhaps I look like a pretty good person when everything is going per plan. But drizzle a bit of adversity in my path, expose me to some inconvenience, confront me with an unplanned delay, and you may just witness my darker side.
Why would I share such an embarrassing self-revelation? Because I don’t believe you’re much different from me. You might not have the same pet peeves as I do, but I’m certain that if life pokes you in the right spot, your peevish pride and ugly entitlement will be revealed just as mine was.
My point here is not to harp on our human failures and sinful shortcomings. I assume you’re fully aware of yours as I am of mine. The gift that these small revelations bring to us is the reminder that we are ever in need of divine grace, of healing mercy, of a Savior. Such small revelations disabuse me from the conceit that “I’m a pretty good person” and lead me to the much healthier confession, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” These small revelations sharpen my sympathy for my fellow humans, who also manifest sinful peevishness, entitlement, and unkindness.
Such revelatory moments shine a harsh light on my brokenness and inadequacy. But they also provide me with the opportunity to practice confession, admitting to God the truth of who I am and what I stand in need of. Such revelations strip away my self-justifications and minimizations, provoking me to let God love me, to trust again in God’s mercy, to receive again God’s forgiveness. Such moments remind me that when I gather for worship, I do so not because I’m a “pretty good person” but because I’m “standing in the need of prayer.” Such revelations remind me that failure is not the exception but the norm and that I’m part of a community united in its willingness to confess its failures and its need for a Savior.
May we allow our little failures to serve as small revelations, provoking us to look for God throughout the day, knowing that the way forward is not by perfection but through humble repentance.