For years, American novelist William Faulkner toiled as an unknown, un-respected writer in the rural Mississippi town of Oxford before he gained recognition. When he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, his acclaim grew. Approached later about the literary people and authors he associated with, Faulkner shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know any bookish people. “The people I know are other farmers and horse people and hunters, and we talk about horses and dogs and guns and what to do about this hay crop or this cotton crop, not about literature.”
Faulkner befriended real people. Unpretentious people. Struggling people. People who had their share of problems and frustrations. He chose to surround himself with folks who got down in the dirt of life rather than those who merely talked about it or wrote about it.
God tends to have the same character trait.
God seems most interested in people who are unpretentious, hopeless, with their share of desperation and defeat. Those who are flawed and wounded. Those in whom most of the world has given up on. God seems most interested in people with nowhere to turn, who pray desperate prayers, who holds onto shattered dreams, trapped by wrong choices, estranged from society, often rejected.
God loves to turn things upside-down. He sometimes selects the most unexpected people to work with. He specializes in using the rejects of society. The broken and flawed. The down and out.
Think about it: God seldom makes his first movement through those people whom you and I would be inclined to call the movers and shakers of the world. Some of the most gifted and talented, prominent and prestigious people tend to use their gifts selfishly. God then has to look elsewhere for help. He ends up using people of more modest talents and even questionable reputations.
Consider the fact that God used Abraham, a liar. Moses, a murderer. David, an adulterer. Peter, the denier. Saul, a killer. The list goes on and on. God always seems to work through the most ordinary and unlikely people who are on the very edge of social respectability.
I could be on that list, too. I, also, have a story. I am flawed. I am a sinner. I am a fallen person. I am broken and bent. I am imperfect. A wretch. An outcast. My sinful condition is like a splash of ink in a glass of water; my flawed state permeates my whole being. I, too, live on the ragged edge, the fringe of respectability.
But, I’m loved. God knows my flawed condition. He knows my fallen state, and he loves me anyway. My tattered condition is no longer the most important thing about me. I was not created flawed. I was designed in such a way that God said to me just as he spoke of Adam “very good.”
Wonder exists in me, and you. Our identity is not centered on our fallen and flawed status. Our past is not our destiny. We may be unlovely, but we are not unloved.
This fact, while confusing, is reassuring. It gives me hope. It gives me possibility.