This confessional comes to us from SM White.

friday-congratulations-wasting-life-on-the-internet-RHHDon’t Waste Your Life! That was the title of a book that John Piper wrote back in 2003, and, excited about another great book like Desiring God, this so-called Christian hedonist excitedly bought it off of the book table at his church.

I wish I could tell you what it was about, but I failed to read it just because of the fact that something about the title bothered me–that it was just another one of the things in a long list that I had already failed to accomplish.

There is a long list of things I “coulda” and “shoulda” done in my life–nearly as long as the list of things I shoulda not done. Certainly I could have been a better child. I hung out with the wrong crowd. I rebelled, I skipped school, I did inhale. Once I became a believer, though, I reformed quite a bit: love, marriage, baby in a baby carriage. I became much more virtuous and serious about my Christianity, and my parenting. I started feeling like a success, because I did have some success.

But success for myself, and my children began to define my value, my meaning, my self-worth. Honestly, I didn’t really notice it. To me I was just getting by. I didn’t even realize that I was on a treadmill of self-justification. I just knew I was tired, and yet I needed to do better. I needed to improve. I needed to succeed.

Recently, I’ve realized that I essentially have two lists to keep, two stories to tell about myself. I have the story I tell everyone else, and the story I keep in my own mind. The story I keep in my mind is the real story, and it’s a story of a miserable wretch. I’m pretty good at the story that I show everyone else. I can talk to people, look them in the eye, and when I’m hitting on all cylinders, I can even sometimes impress them.

The me on the inside often doesn’t feel very likable. If I’m honest, there are times when I don’t even like myself. The resumé on the inside feels more like a rap-sheet of moral crimes and failures, and sometimes they scream louder than anything else, “Shame!”

“But God!”…

Enter the good news that Jesus lived and died and was raised again for me. It is so sweet. It is the only thing that will bring hope and peace to a wasted life like mine. Still, it is often very difficult for someone like me to believe God really loves me, because I have that voice inside that constantly tells me how terrible I really am. Do other people feel like this, I wonder, or am I the only one?

Ultimately I always fall back on God’s promises that he fulfills in Christ, and that I have nothing else to lay hold of but Christ, because I have nothing else to hope in but Christ; so, I hope in Christ. For me, my shame propels me to cast my hope on his mercy because I have no other options. I can’t make him love me; in those moments, I can just trust that in his word he says he does, and God cannot lie (Tt 1:2).

So in the case of the wasted life, I stand, guilty as charged. The sting of that guilt, however, is gone, and the shame is continually lifted away. Not only does “fully forgiven” mean “fully forgiven,” but when I stand I do so in and by and because of His righteousness alone. This is the real game changer. This is scandalous grace. This is worth getting out of bed in the morning! I can live this so-called wasted life, even boldly, even unashamedly. Because I am His and He is mine, and there’s finally some rest. Because, through Him, I’ve already won.