We all have them, those memories that make us squirm and cringe. Whether excruciatingly embarrassing or justly condemning, we have a permanent record of some really stupid moves. Like the time I swore a blue-streak at a pretty decent guy in high school. And the time I was asked in front of thirty people to give the pith of the opening sentence of the Declaration of Independence, and I went on and on instead of saying merely: ‘Common courtesy demands we state why we are breaking away.’ (That may not seem like a big deal, but it was a blow to my pride.)
I was cutting up onions one evening just before Christmas, weeping as I do on those occasions, and working up a good reason for tears by going over the latest crop of slimy memories. Always looking for a reason to justify the extravagance and gift-giving that marks this holiday in my home, I made a fabulous connection.
Those experiences are gifts from God. Under the sovereignty of God each one of those experiences was foreordained, even crafted, for my benefit. He makes no waste; even my sins and gaucheries work to sanctify me, to answer my heart’s desire to have more of the character of His Son. Each indiscretion is an answer to prayer for wisdom. Each one modified my behavior at least a little; I don’t repeat my ‘mistakes’ because the memory of the first burns so much. And certainly the remembrance of my own failings gives me compassion for those whom I witness in theirs.
I will never see the gifts under the Christmas tree in the same way.