If you have ever written a research paper, you know you must go through many rough drafts before you present the final project. The rough drafts are examined for error, edited, and rewritten until the paper is perfect, polished and finished. Every time a new draft is completed, the process begins again, with more scrutiny and deeper analysis. At first, the editor may catch the most obvious problems: spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, incomplete sentences. Once those have been fixed, deeper issues surface: transitional sentences, clarity of writing, consistent theme. Draft after draft, the imperfections are edited away and the paper becomes better and better on its journey to the final piece. Any writing teacher will tell you that the most important aspect of a final draft, the end goal, is that it must answer the proposed question.
I believe life with Jesus is like writing a research paper. God has given us each a question, straight out of his own mouth: “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). In the process of answering this question with our lives, it is easy to rush to the conclusion and say the words of Peter, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” without real depth or understanding. The answer has yet to be tested and proven true. A paper is no paper at all without the body, and the body is not formed in one draft. The longer I follow Jesus, the more time I spend writing this research paper, I find that God teaches us the answer in the rough drafts.
In my victories, I learn that he is the one who fights my battles.
In my grief, he shows himself to be “near to the brokenhearted.”
In anger, Jesus reveals his shared humanity with mankind.
In my sin, I discover Jesus’ deity and the power of the gospel.
In my waiting, God proves to be the only true God, exposing my idols of control.
In my joy, the Holy Spirit showcases his power.
In my hope, I see life and circumstances through God’s eternal perspective.
Discovering Jesus as the Messiah, the living God, is not just found, but understood in the rough drafts. It is there – in the waiting, the victories, the unknown, the sicknesses, the joys and the sorrows – where the answer is tested and proven true. It is tempting in a world of social media to put on a facade, proudly displaying to the world that I have my final draft in order. But no one presents a perfect, final, polished draft without being tested and put through fire. I want to challenge the idea that as Christians we must have it all figured out and live perfect lives, completely in order and free of all brokenness and mess. God is with us in the mess, the brokenness, and the mistakes. That is where we learn who he is.
I believe God loves us too much to not do the hard heart work of refinement, even though it may hurt at times. As the Author of our lives, he is constantly editing and rewriting our story, with the red pen of his own blood, for his glory and our good. Therefore, we can take great joy in being proof-read and adapted, as we are his masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10). His final draft, if we surrender to his kind and tender hands, will perfectly answer the question: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). But, like Peter, the answer will not be mere naive words, but will rather reflect a deep understanding of God’s character, gained in the many rough drafts.
This blog is a place where rough drafts are processed and the answer is tested. You will not find glossy stories, answers to all the hard questions, or endings wrapped up with perfect bows. Often times seasons come and go without answers, healing, relief or understanding. Yet, Jesus continues to be enough. Here you will read through thoughts, questions, and external processing as Jesus edits and rewrites my story, and the stories of those around me.
Welcome to the unfinished and unpolished rough draft.