Tomorrow I head to Dallas to speak at the MOP’s (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) Convention.  I can’t wait to be a part of this amazing event and to speak to young mothers about addiction.  I recently wrote an article for the MOP’s magazine, Fulfill.  ( entitled “Thirst”.  I wrote about my own addiction to alcohol and God finding me in the midst of shame and guilt.  I smiled and winced when I found the page that contained my article.  In the middle of my writing was a sign with the words, “Warning: This Story May Be a Little Scary.”

I could understand the editor’s warning.  My story is one of stops and starts, of glory and depravity, and of God shining His light of love in the midst of overwhelming darkness.  I battled with a little shame at being labeled “scary”, and then I thought of a few other scary stories I have known.

I have often heard scary stories in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  During our meetings we often celebrate anniversaries marking a year, three years, and even twenty years or more of sobriety.  We even celebrate the moment in a meeting when someone desires sobriety.  A few weeks ago a broken man named Gary confessed his desire to stop drinking.  He stood up to receive his coin representing his confessed desire.  He started to speak and then choked up and turned his back on our circle.  Within minutes a standing ovation began and members of our group surrounded Gary, hugging and even kissing him on the cheeks.  This welcoming grace almost knocked Gary off his feet and it left me speechless.  You see, I knew that this was Gary’s fifth time in the last two weeks to receive a coin symbolizing his desire to stop drinking.  I think Gary’s repeated faltering attempts to stop drinking and his repeated failure to put the pieces of his life back together might be a little scary to some.  But maybe our celebration of Gary is the scariest part of the story.  Scary like the celebration Jesus describes, “I tell you, there will be the same kind of joy before the angels of God over one repentant sinner” (Luke 15:10). 

Welcoming grace.  It’s surprising . . . and scary in a world where status matters, we are experts at fooling each other, and where the high and mighty rise and the lowly descend.  A world that is the exact opposite of the world as Jesus sees it.  One of his scariest stories tells about a time when the most sinful woman in town crashed the Pharisees’ dinner party.  This woman broke an alabaster jar of precious perfume over Jesus’ head.  The guests at the dinner party were outraged — maybe because her story and her unabashed worship of Jesus were a little scary.    Jesus commanded the high and mighty to, “Leave her alone.”  He is so deeply moved by the lowly woman’s act of worship that He wants it recounted and retold all over the world.

Write this down!” he tells them.  “Until the end of time I want men to know how deeply this woman’s love has affected me” (Mark 14:3-9). 

How deeply Jesus is affected by our love, repentance, confession of sin, and worship of Him.  We affect Him — that’s a little scary.  And at the same time it is the only story deep enough to contain our stories of sin, failure, guilt, and shame.  My experience of redemption in the humiliating, broken, and scary places of my story has taught me that the deepest story is that God is searching for me.  Redemption does not mean that God meets our needs and then our souls stop longing.  No, redemption does not eradicate our longings.  Redemption allows us to surrender our scary stories to His Story.  We don’t give up craving.  We give into craving God and discover that God doesn’t want something from us.  He wants us.

“So spacious is He, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in Him without crowding.  Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe . . . get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies all because of His death, His blood that poured down from the Cross” Colossians 1:15-20.