Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable”
So don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.
Caedmon’s Call, “The Truth”
[M]aybe all that I’ve to do was done a long time ago.

‘Cause there was life before my life,
There was provision before my need,
There was redemption before my sin,
For the sake of the world I thank the Lord,
That the truth’s not contingent on me.
Psalm 103:15-17
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting . . .
This last month and a half has been (in many ways) an extended exercise in forced humility. There is little virtue is having one’s weaknesses exposed, particular those banal, petty weaknesses that I’d hoped were a thing of the past. Cultivated humility for the sake of spiritual growth is one thing. Being pushed down under the weight of one’s own failures is another. As Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 12, there’s nothing more pitiable than exorcising one demon and “putting your house in order” just to have the same unclean spirit show back up with seven fresh companions in tow. “The last state of that person is worse than the first” (Matt. 12:45). It takes real spiritual sanity to live proactively within that truth.

All metaphors aside, by far the hardest thing to deal with has been the stark realization that I am (despite my previous thoughts to the contrary) thoroughly replaceable. I don’t mean replaceable as a person (like with my wife, friends or family). I mean replaceable as a tool of the kingdom. It’s been tough (unbelievably tough) to realize that I’m not indispensable, not foundational, not one-off. In the end, God’s about doing His will, building His church, glorifying His Son and he’ll do it with just as much glory, power, and beauty with me as without me. Jesus is irreplaceable, Aaron isn’t.

I don’t say this to evoke sympathy. A sort of “There, there. You’re special.” is the last thing I need (not that I’ve given up hoping for it; pride dies hard after all). In the end, however, what it has to come down to (what I need most) is grace. Grace that comes from the outside in. Grace that has nothing to do with me, the receiver, and everything to do with God, the Giver. Grace to be forgiven. Grace to be renewed. Grace to be made clean. Grace to grow-up. “For the sake of the world [am myself] I thank the Lord / That the truth’s not contingent on me.”

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