There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Romans 3:10-12

Do not think that you are better than other people. Always be kind and patient with each other. Love one another, so that you do not quickly become angry with each other. Ephesians 4:2

A memory came over Google pictures yesterday from the last month of my father’s life. I spent the entire month with him and the photo beamed memories of a wide smile and near mania of his pre-death surge. If you have ever been close to someone who is dying, you might be familiar with the phenomena in which the dying person experiences excess energy and joy, the last hurrah so to speak.

Although my aged father was in the last stages of dementia, he never forgot me or the most important things about living. We continued to have deep conversations up until the very end. It was never beyond his capability or my own to express comprehensive understanding of what we both knew. There is some background to this: when he visited me in 2011 after my near brush with death, he briefly discussed the spiritual awakening he had experienced that very year.

I distinctly remember how he marveled that a significant number of people would go an entire lifetime and never awaken from the dream. My father gained his sight in 2011 before dementia was to remove aspects of him which were not crucial to his eternal self. My father’s salvation served as a balm over his loss of competency and kept him in contented peace throughout his last days.

During one of our many conversations, I read him the portion of Matthew 25 where Jesus was separating the sheep from the goats. After I had finished reading about the sheep, I looked up at him and told him that was a description of how he cared for other people and that made him one of God’s favorites. He was pleased beyond measure. However, when I told him that he was a good man he shook his head and said, “No, I’m not.”

My father kept it real. While most of us are content to lie to ourselves about who we are, my father did not suffer that malady. It might have helped that he had some people in his life who liked to remind him of his faults. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Still, he knew himself and did not pretend to be better than what he was. Neither was he impeded with the sickness of pride which sullies so many.

Most of us lean toward thinking we are good people. We look at ourselves (in comparison to others who are not like us) and fool ourselves into thinking we are pretty good. Some of us have worked on ourselves and overcome many of our faults. Yet here is the test. If all of your thoughts and actions from your lifetime were broadcast over the big screens in Times Square, televised to the world, would you run and hide in a cave or beg God for immediate death?

We are not good people. Looking back on my life I can remember all of my true thoughts about what I wanted and what I didn’t. I recall every rotten thing I have ever thought, said, or done. I consider the faults which are still with me today. They certainly don’t line up with standards in The Book but they get closer and closer every day.

But then my entire life changed on a dime. It was like a tornado tore through me and blew heaps of garbage straight out of me. Although it took several years of sweeping up to get to today, the person I have become bears no resemblance to the person I have been my entire life. The person who I naturally am is not good; but the Spirit which is now inside of me IS. I am no more responsible for who I have become than I am for causing the earth to spin on its axis.

I understand the minds of skeptics. Church pews are filled with people who have never had a first-hand experience of the living power of God loose in the world to heal and transform even the greatest of sinners. If any of you are in the group of people who knew me at my worst and intimately know the me of today – I dare you to say I was capable of this.

Blessed are the broken. The only way any of us come to God is as a destitute beggar. Think you have failed? You have. Humility is the gift which breaks self-sufficiency. God’s power can do what you cannot fathom. Want to dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven?  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. God, Jeremiah 29:13