Condemn: to express strong disapproval of, to show or declare guilt, to declare unfit for use.
Every now and then the voice of condemnation makes a bid for prominence in my day, my thoughts and feelings. It’s often when I hear the story of a famous, influential person who has accomplished a lot, or when I hear a tribute to someone who used their talent in an extraordinary way and influenced many lives for better. I am tempted to look at my very small circle of influence and compare. The voice points out the ways in which I have not been courageous, or diligent, or faithful, or willing to be involved.
Yesterday I entered the doctor’s waiting room, signed in and took a seat. There was a late 20’s aged girl totally absorbed in telling her life story to an elderly couple. She recounted her home life, her dysfunctional relationship with her father, mother and brother, and the situation she was presently involved in. There were many complaints, tales of poor decisions (blamed on others, of course) and all voiced loudly enough that I had a hard time concentrating on the book I was trying to read. I was wishing not to hear her after five minutes, but after fifteen minutes I was actually considering going outside to escape and asking the desk to call me when it was my turn to go back. The elderly couple was called back and she no longer had an audience, which clearly upset her. She changed chairs and started making comments to herself about how sick she was. She got up and kicked a book off the chair next to her, sat down on that chair, and mentioned out loud how she was not going to pick up the book because she was too sick. I was SO grateful to be called about then and spared having to get into a conversation with her. She had “needy” written all over her and I didn’t want to deal with it.
You see, I am very aware of the miraculous ways in which God is walking into people’s lives and changing their course, and yet I am not always willing to get involved. The truth is that when I have been involved in situations similar to that, they have not turned out well. Over time I have seen that I am ineffective when it comes to counseling, reasoning with people to enlighten them, thinking of what to say to help them. I am not able to change hearts, and much of the time I can’t even figure out what their need is and how to approach them. Here’s where the voice of condemnation would like to finish me off. It would like me to think that I was responsible, and that it is now over, too late. The voice repeats “It’s about you, and your failure.”
I have been convicted of my part and in response I am asking for crazy boldness, extra resourcefulness, time at the right time, and discernment. I know God can teach me these things. I know he forgives me for falling short. If I hear a condemning voice, it is not his and I had better ask who that voice belongs to. It is never too late for God to show what he can do, in fact the later it seems, the more awesome he proves himself to be.
“so, there is now no condemnation…” The Bible, Romans 8:1
Guess what? It is not about me (or any of us). The whole story is about God and what he has done, is doing and will do yet. It is not over, not too late. It’s in progress and we are part of it, a special part, but it is not about us. That is pretty good news, just sayin’…