In the midst of reading this book by Dan B. Allender, I was struggling really badly with my SSA sexual struggle that I thought of “leaving” and saying goodbye to my Pastor and the church. The reason was, somewhat I came to the point that I can no longer endure being torn apart inside almost all the time between what I want to do but I do not do and what I do not want to do but I do. Struggling with sin, as Paul described in Romans 7 and delineated it as thorn in the flesh, is no longer bearable to me that if God cannot just let me die to stop disgracing and dishonoring His name, might as well sojourn this Christian life and stop struggling. But on the day I was about to do it, I asked God desperately to speak to me of His assurance of His love and mercy. Otherwise, I will continue running away.
God has proven once again His faithfulness and He truly reaches out to us and hears us at desperate times when we honestly ask. The Lord used the story of Peter after His resurrection and the paradox of grace in this book as He spoke to me through these messages. I was weeping the whole time listening and reading from it!
His words to me were simply, to try again for His grace never runs out. That was the challenge, to have more faith and try again because when we fail and sin, believing in God’s grace gives us the opportunity to try again. It is the essence of Jesus’ resurrection, which could mean a new beginning.
As for the book, falling forward is recommended and leading requires a weakness, flaws or struggles like mine to be effective. With the ministry God has entrusted me, which is proclaiming the gospel through what He has done into my life as HIV+ and a Christian struggling with SSA, I influence and lead people. And I cannot afford to be plastic and pretend that I am okay when actually I am not at least to my Pastor and few trusted friends. According to Allender, we need to tell stories about failure and the need for grace. We need to share stories that invite hearer to consider the wild, inverted paradox of grace. Three great paradoxes helped me to be reminded of what living nowadays as a struggling Christian is all about according to him.
We have been saved. We are being saved and one day we will be saved. We commonly refer to this as “being work in progress.” No one is finished, and no one is fully redeemed even though God calls us saints and beloved. We live in a state of the already and not yet. Simply true that I am still a sinner, a chief one, that committing failure and sins are inevitable in this life that is why we should fall forward and need grace.
The call to be strong and tender is the second paradox. Again according to Allender, it is easier to be just one and not the other. True strength must be courageous enough to confess cowardice and tender enough to admit self-absorption. A limping leader must delight in the dignity of those who offer feedback about failure even if they do so in a manner that lacks finesse or wisdom.
Lastly, the ways of being wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove is the paradox that implies that we are to be no less crafty than the serpent and must not be naïve or foolishly innocent. We are meant to be cunning and clever as we invite other to the gospel and at the same time, we are to live with harmless presence of a dove.
All these, which gave me all the reason to stay in Him for what I have been through and still going through, magnifies the value of grace and invites others not to be surprised by my own desperate need of Jesus and the gospel. I might stumble again but will persevere in falling forward because I caught up in the person of Jesus. He is the reason of everything I am. I will continue to believe and hold on to His grace no matter what and model growth to show and point people to Him.
This has become a part of my message when I shared my testimony a couple of days ago before the leaders of this Christian church from all over the country. We are all broken and struggling, as we lead people to Christ, and constantly in need of His amazing grace, mercy and unconditional love.
God bless everyone!
God bless everyone!