Maybe the biggest lesson of my adult life has been a lesson about my own identity.

I got tired of pretending; lying and ducking and puffing and faking. To be sure, I still do those things. I’m just tired of them now.

But, when the great God of Heaven’s Armies declares, “I AM,” all I have left to offer him is that, “I am not.”

I am not the husband I should be. I am not the father I should be. I am not the brother or son that I should be. I am not the friend or neighbor I should be. I am not the employee or the coworker that I should be.

I am not.

It is a discouraging thought. But, looking back over the many seasons of life where I’ve failed and, frankly, looking around me now, realizing that I’ve left a wake of damage and knowing a good deal of what is ‘right’ to be done, I see my flaws. I know where I’m going to fail.

If you’ve been to a good church enough times, you know what comes next: this is the purpose of God’s amazing grace. We are not enough, but He is.

That is true. That is beautiful.

Yet, I regret it. I know it is something that I cannot be, but it hurts to know that it is something I haven’t been. Damage has been done.

I am not enough. I have proven time and time again that I cannot be the change I want to see in the world. I make the same excuses for myself that everyone else does. “You tried; that counts for something!” “At least you aren’t as bad as him.” “You’ll do better next time.”

But isn’t that here the Gospel starts to make sense?

Isn’t that when the truth begins to set us free? Not from remorse; not from sadness (..not yet).

The bad news always comes before the good news. I haven’t been enough. I am not.

He is.

Now, may the Spirit of the living God that casts new light on old sins take root in you and in me. Let him work his good work. Let him paint you with new, living colors.

Let him roar. Let us tremble.

Let me bury my face in his mane and wrap my body in his paws and lay my head on his soft belly as it rises and falls with his heavy breaths. I can feel his claws behind the rough pads of his big feet, and I know I deserve them. But, he doesn’t seem to have my blood in mind. I feel safe with him, even though he is no tame lion. He smells like grass and dirt and rose petals and his long, slow blinks tell me about love.

I am not. He is.