Nancy Ortberg is speaking on leadership on Thursday morning at Orange 2010 and has made a statement that I paraphrase here: "If we want people to move from poor to great, we have to be OK with them going through the messy steps between poor and great." Good observation but it isn't limited to leadership. It is just as valid within the Christian life. Too many of us suffer from the idea – even if it isn't directly stated – that we have to "be the best we can be" all the time or God leaves us. Some believe that if we "grieve the Holy Spirit," the Spirit leaves us and so we perceive our salvation and position with God as something that ebbs and flows if not comes and goes as we fail and then perform for the Creator.
Of course this is not the case as a bit of reflection will reveal. Paul urges us to "be transformed; to become like God." The use of "become" implies – no, demands – a process. A process then implies that we, even though with God, are still un-transformed and un-God like as we travel from immature to mature images of God. We are imperfect and God knows that; He does not expect perfection per se at any given moment. We are saved by the blood of Jesus not whether or not we ever mess things up.
Our God personifies Nancy's leadership principle, but as something much more personal and broad than simple leadership. If God died for us "while we were yet sinners," His patience continues to provide the grace space for us to learn, to fail, to be lifted up again on our journey into the Image in which we were made. Neither God nor His Spirit come and go as we stumble along; God has never behaved that way. In fact, when He sent Israel into exile, God went with them to Babylon. He did not abandon them. It is OK that we fail from time to time in our pursuit of the life we have been made to live.
God expects it; He knows you; His love extends His grace and patience in our failures.
Rest in that today and in the future when tempted to kick yourself or perform a bit better to make up for your failings.