I want to share a Bible verse with you that I used to dislike. "The Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe." Now I'll leave that verse dangling in your mind while I go on to tell you about my hyperactive bird dog, Alice.
I've learned a lot about bird dogs in the last couple of years, thanks to Alice. For instance, there are some dogs who have mild-mannered personalities and are easily trained, and some have spunky personalities and can be more of a challenge. Both kinds are truly wonderful. Alice is the spunky kind. It would be easy to think that mild-mannered equals good and spunky equals bad, simply because one is easier to train than the other, but that's absolutely incorrect. They are different kinds of dogs, and as such they have different strengths and weaknesses, and they bring with them different joys and pains.
People are like that too. Like Alice, I'm one of the spunky ones. I've always had a passionate temperament, and with it comes some joy and some pain. From an early age I began to equate my passionate temperament with "BAD", and certain other people's mild-mannered temperaments with "GOOD". I didn't see that there were both bad and good traits that come with either. And that wrong idea of BAD and GOOD affected how I viewed God and how I imagined He must view me and other people.
So back to the verse—"The Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe." That's not good news if you're pretty sure you're not the righteous. A verse like that might make you imagine God way up high in a tower (along with other people you think would make sense there)— looking out the window at you, way out beyond the mote, on the hillside. That's what I imagined when I heard that verse. But I was looking at it all wrong, just like some people look at their hyperactive bird dogs wrong. For one thing, God loves hyperactive bird dogs and people with passionate personalities. But also, when that verse talks about the "Righteous" I think it's talking about a title, rather than a trait. No person is totally righteous even when they're trying their best, just like there are no perfect bird dogs. But my Alice is loved. I could call her Beloved Alice—not because everything she does is lovable (although a lot of it is), but because I've placed my love on her. I've settled it there. So it's actually my love that makes her Beloved Alice. And I think it's that way with God. He's able to declare all different sorts of people righteous (not just the mild-mannered, easily trained ones) because He puts His righteousness on them—and that title, that stems from His righteousness, welcomes us to Him.
So now I love that verse.