I connected with my favorite Christian author’s books so deeply that I feel like she is more of a cherished, perfect grandma to me than a complete stranger whose books I read. Her books coached me through adolescence, through college, through transitioning into independence, and through transitioning into marriage. When I have a question, I consult her. She is, to me, the pinnacle of Christian virtue and wisdom.
Some of my coworkers, who have worked with her on several occasions, have tried to remind me that she was a human, fallen like the rest of us. I just plug my ears. How could someone who has been so used by God be anything less than perfect?
This past week I felt like I had blown it again, had let my pride take control of my tongue. Afterwards, sitting in the shame of it, I felt like there’s no way God can use a person like me. How could anyone take a sinner like me seriously? I have this idea that in order to be useful to God, I need to live (at least in the eyes of others) in sinless perfection.
God reminded me on three different occasions through three different people about my Christian hero. The phrase feet of clay kept coming up. My hero had feet of clay. I have feet of clay. Every person who has ever lived, except for Jesus our Savior, has (or had) feet of clay. We stumble, we mess up, we say the wrong things in front of the wrong people, and God uses us anyway. It felt like a breath of sweet air to accept that my hero wasn’t perfect. She had a sin nature like me and struggled in her own areas with temptation and sin, and yet God still used her.
Being sinners doesn’t disqualify us from being used by God. In fact, being a sinner is what qualifies us to be redeemed by Jesus’ blood, transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit, and useful for accomplishing the work of God’s kingdom.
I want to always be striving for holiness, and I certainly don’t want to be flippant about my lack of holiness. It would be easy to shrug off conviction and say, “Nobody’s perfect.” But isn’t it comforting to know that conviction is not condemnation and that God still has forgiveness and compassion for us. We all have feet of clay, but God doesn’t despise us for it. Instead, He is merciful and gracious, a most tender and loving Father.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:11-14 ESV
Jenn serves as America’s Keswick’s audio visual technician. She is married to Steven Cougle, a Colony grad who serves in the Housekeeping department.