Monday, February 7, 2011

Tainted

Something’s bugging me. I want this blog to be a place of encouragement for other people, but I need to ensure that you see the whole picture here…..otherwise you are going to be missing a huge part of our lives. This is my blog so I can choose to blog about whatever I want. Most of the time I choose to blog about uplifting, positive things happening in our lives. But for every ‘good’ thing going on, there are usually a handful of ‘junky’ things going on, and most of the time it isn’t appropriate to blog about those things because they involve other people’s lives. I guess what I am saying is that it sickens me to think that someone may see some of the things we are doing in Ghana, or with the adoption, or with selling our house, or whatever, and think that we are doing them out of the goodness of our heart. It sickens me because I know my heart. And my heart, more often than not, produces bad things not good. And so, it is only because of the goodness of God that any of these things are being done through us. When you look at Team Sullivan I hope you see a bunch of wretched sinners that God has taken hold of, convicted them of their sinful lives, and somehow broken down their callous, selfish hearts, and taught them about their debt that was stacking up against them…but that was paid for by a sweet Savior. And I hope when you see it, that it doesn’t make you want to praise us, but that it makes you give praise to our Almighty God for how he has taken a bunch of junk, and done something with it. God has rocked our lives. And I hope that this blog shows the magnificent work that HE is doing as HE opens our eyes, as HE convicts us, as HE changes our hearts and gives us opportunities to take part in HIS work.

God says that all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) And there is not one who does good. Not even one. All have turned away. (Psalm 14:3) That’s me that those verses are talking about.

Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31) That’s me Jesus came for….a sinner who needed to be brought to repentance.

This post wasn’t spurred because I need to come out of hiding about something. There wasn’t any big huge thing that happened that caused me to write this. But there are a lot of little things going on that have caused me to want to have absolute, positive assurance that you see the real us. Every day I need to be honest with myself about my sinful condition. Every day I need to stand humbly at the foot of the cross and witness its message. Sure, we are helping a village in Africa. Sure we have adopted. Sure we’ve opened up our home to outsiders. But these seemingly ‘good’ things could easily fool people into thinking that we are some real ‘good’ people. And that is what is bugging me because that is just not the case. When you click on Team Sullivan, I don’t want you to think that we are some holier than thou family who has it all together. I never want to forget the junk that God has changed and continues to change in my life.

I’ve felt the morning-after guilt of the drunkard.

I’ve felt the brokenness of friendships (yes that’s plural) because of my prideful heart.

I’ve screamed in anger at my kids.

I’ve gossiped.

I’ve been unloving to people that annoy me.

I’ve judged others in a condemning way.

I’ve seen someone in need and turned away.

I’ve disrespected my husband so loudly and blindly that I had to be rebuked for it by trusted friends.

I’ve turned away from God because of unpleasant circumstances.

I’ve felt the regret of not remaining pure before marriage.

I’ve said every 4 letter word you can imagine.

I’ve been a hypocrite.

And there’s more where this came from. And in verse after verse in my Bible this junk is labeled as just that….SIN. I’m not telling you these things because I am proud of them. But I am letting you see them so that you can have confidence that I am a credible witness of how God can transform people through his forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I am not making this stuff up. We’ve messed up. We’ve failed. And we are sinners. We aren’t perfect. We are part of sinful humanity. We are tainted, plagued, disobedient people who have found forgiveness and life to the full in following after a Perfect, Holy, Patient, and Forgiving God. He’s the only reason that I am even sitting here typing about adventures in Africa. He’s the only reason there is a boy in my house that I call my son who I never carried in my womb. He’s the only reason Jake and I have a marriage that is growing stronger instead of weaker. He’s the only reason why I will spend eternity with Him in heaven…because He sent a Savior for me, the sick sinner. There is nothing I can do to gain or win over his merit. There’s no good works enough in this world that even if I stacked every single one on top of the other that it would somehow cancel out what my sin deserves….death. ONLY Jesus’ blood intersecting my repentant heart can bring me to God’s judgement seat with confidence that I will live with God forever in eternity. And only Jesus’ work on the cross could possibly take all the condemnation, and guilt, and shame from all that junk and nail it to the cross….offering me FREEDOM, NEW LIFE, and SALVATION.

If knowing all of this causes you to never want to read this blog again then so be it. But I hope this post showcases the reality that even Team Sullivan’s best efforts and attempts in this life are still tainted with sin. I certainly hope our blog encourages you in your walk with God or to know God if you don’t yet….but you MUST understand that we are NOT good people doing good things. In fact none of this is about what we’ve done but what God has and is doing. I pray that this blog is a place where you see and hear us echo the apostle Paul as he states in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 – Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

"Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior." ~ John Newton (author of the song Amazing Grace)~

5 comments:

Michelle said...

Janel, you are an amazing woman!!! Yes, there is junk, there are regrets, there are mistakes...but PRAISE GOD they're all washed away by the blood of Christ and PRAISE HIM that we can live in freedom because of HIS sacrifice!!!!!!!! And even be USED by Him to do his work...it's really so humbling!

Thank you for sharing this - I can echo so much of this blog - I think it'll have the opposite affect of the one you mentioned. It won't push people away but rather draw them closer to the TRUTH and REALITY of the LOVE OF CHRIST and its POWER. We're ALL broken, wretched, and NOT GOOD ENOUGH by anything we can do on our own!! It's ONLY the grace and mercy of our Savior that gives us that. ALL THE GLORY TO HIM!!!!!!!!

Beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for your honesty.

Someday we will see each other, too :)

Lisa said...

I, too, am a sinner...covered by the grace of God through the blood of Christ and granted mercy at the cross. What love for such a sinful person!

renee said...

Janel
There is no need to explain anything to anyone. As long as you believe in what you are doing, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks! :) I just told your mom that what you and Jake are doing isn't for just anyone! You are a good person - that's all that matters. ♥ Renee

nick&abby said...

Amen, sista :). Thank you for being so transparent!

Jake said...

That is an awesome post sweetie very well said! Love you!