All Fall Short

I’ve read the portion hundreds of times. My memory has retained it for more than 20 years. So when I read the Bible in 90 days recently, I expected to breeze through it. Smile even, at reading something I knew so well.

What I didn’t expect was for my lungs to fail me. For my heart to stop me from reading any further. But I’ve grown to appreciate when it happens. Those moments where He manages to get through to me even when I’m not looking.

You know it, too. It’s one of the first verses you memorize on the Christian journey, wouldn’t you say?

Friends, this is a verse I believe in wholeheartedly. We are all sinners in need of His grace. So I was shocked when He whispered to me:

See, my child, everyone falls short.
Stop trying to prove it wrong.

Read it again.

You might remember I had decided to read the Bible through in a new-to-me translation. So this time, I actually read the words in front of me instead of reciting the ones in my head.

For everyone has sinned;
we all fall short
of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 3:23 NLT (emphasis mine)

I read it over and over again until what He was saying sunk into my thick skull. And oh my goodness was He ever right. I had been trying to prove it wrong.

You see, for nearly 30 years I’ve tried to prove I make a great Christian. I would set standards for myself and work at meeting them. When I passed those, I would set more challenging expectations and try to reach them. And I was certain this was what the Christian journey should look like for one who was striving to be like Jesus. Always improving. Stretching. Climbing higher up the proverbial ladder. Why, just look at the title of my blog.

What I had missed was the tense of this verse. We’ve all sinned, yes. But it doesn’t say we’ve all fallen short. Like it is a one-time event. No. We all fall short. Time and time again.

My pride was ripped right then and there. Torn from my flesh in a million little pieces. One by one. The sting of ashamedness pulsed with each scale discovered.

Friends, I had missed the point entirely. All these years…years I had spent trying to prove I deserved the gift He was offering me: Grace. Striving to show Jesus didn’t die for me in vain.

When the truth is: We are all hopelessly flawed. There is not a one of us that deserves what He offers. Not one. And no matter how hard we try, none of us will succeed at deserving it: Grace.

We have nothing to offer Him. There is not one thing I have or am capable of that He needs enough to pay for. With His own Perfect Son.

That’s why the Word of God can say Jesus paid it all. (2 Cor. 5:21) Because He did. He paid for us in full. We didn’t contribute one penny. And we can never pay Him back.

We’re hopelessly flawed. That’s a guarantee.
But we’re also hopelessly forgiven. That’s a promise.
Given by the only One who deserves it.

If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
If that doesn’t describe grace, I don’t know what does.

{Deep breath}

My cherished readers, God’s been doing an overhaul on me. It started long before this event. But this is the one that made me realize I need a do-over. I need to be born-anew all over again.

I need to see redemption for what it truly is.

And I need to share it with you.

Do you mind, friend, if we go back to the basics here for awhile? As I sort out what God has been trying to show me? Will you share with me lessons You have learned on your own journey that might help the rest of us here in this space? Because I still believe it. We’re all striving, stretching, sometimes struggling. Why not help each other along the way?

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners
and proved that we are utterly incapable
of living the glorious lives God wills for us,
God did it for us.
Out of sheer generosity He put us in right standing with Himself.
A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in
and restored us to where He always wanted us to be.
And He did it by means of Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:22-24 MSG

20 thoughts on “All Fall Short

  1. I would love to go back to the basics. I need to start all over myself. I have been born again for three years and we, my husband and I, have been attending a service that we love but feel that we have gotten so wrapped up in doing “church things.” I do not even know if I know the basics. Right now I am struggling with too many things within the church that I feel it is becoming legalistic instead of freedom. Does that make any sense? Anyway maybe the way to put it is I am struggling.

    • Janet, thank you so much for sharing with me today. First, let me say I’m so excited to know you have been born again! That is worth celebrating indeed! Secondly, I know exactly what you mean and have been there myself. It makes perfect sense to me. So let’s go down this road together, you and I. We’ll strip it down, peel back the layers one by one until all we see is Him. Freedom.
      What a Savior. What a God we serve — One who introduces us to others who are on a similar journey. What a gift! So grateful for you, Janet.

  2. Nikki, this is so good! An attitude of pride can creep in continually, and we may not even be aware of it. So thankful for His Spirit that shines His light of truth and understanding into our hearts. God has been convicting me of pride recently, and reminding me to live more humbly … and I want to think on your words today … thanks!

    • So true, Cherry. I must confess to you, if someone had said I was a prideful person, I wouldn’t have believed them until He showed me personally. The spotlight the Holy Spirit shines sometimes is blinding and painful, don’t you think?
      Thank you so much for sharing with me today, Cherry. You bless me more than you know.

  3. Oh Nikki, your post blessed my heart, I believe we are all “simply striving” to be pleasing to God, I think God smiles and thinks striving is alright because it drives you into a closer relationship to me. Yet the closer we get the more we realize how imperfect we are. But that’s OK as long as I am a reflection of His grace. Blessings to you and keep reflecting His grace.

    • You are right, Joy. I think He sees striving as alright, too. When it’s done for the right reason. I think that’s where I went wrong. I was out to prove I could do it. Me. I think I left Him out of the formula and left Him solely as the answer to the equation, which is not what He wants of us. Wouldn’t you agree? I can do all things through Christ….not by myself. (but that’s another post…possibly the next one) : )
      Thanks for sharing with me, Joy! What a blessing you are to me.

  4. YES…YES…YES! I need this my friend. To be reminded of and walk down the road of the simplicity of the gospel, the basics, before life got complicated (or before I complicated life). Thank you for the heart you wear on your sleeve. I love you my friend!

    • He really didn’t mean for it to be complicated, did He. I really believe that. Oh the mess we can get tangled up in… Friend, He’s been taking a seem ripper to me. So thankful you are here on my journey to encourage and pray for me! Love you, too!

  5. Back to the basics is always good! Building a firm foundation is needed for our spiritual development. Some of my favorite verses aren’t the *pretty* or easy verses, but the ones that constantly help me overcome myself.

    What I love….what brings joy to me each morning is that TODAY is a NEW DAY. The old is done. Forgotten. Forgiven. What amazing GRACE He gives us unconditionally!!

  6. Nikki, this post is so powerful. Thank you for sharing your story here and for asking us to journey with you. I am continually amazed at how very much He longs for us to be in community and at how very much support and encouragement community can provide. Bless you in your time of discernment .
    I realize more and more too how authenticity from others is a GIFT, always unwrapped with care and tenderness. His mercies are new daily and I hold tight, very tight to that. How much He loves us to send the Holy Spirit who is always gentle in His ways.

    • He is always gentle in His ways, isn’t He! I know He’s been sharing this lesson with me for long time. In gentle whispers. Finally I’m begging to slow down enough to hear… and you are so right. This community has blessed me so much! God hasn’t made us to go it alone, has He. We’re not self-sufficient. And what a gift He brings in others to share with along life’s journey. You’re included! So blessed by you. thank you for sharing with me.

  7. Oh, Nikki, sweet Nikki! You are so wise to be so young . . . how we all need to get back to the basics, the simple words of the Bible, the ones He has shown us all along. But we’re human and we are flawed, each and every one, and we forget to read beyond the words on the printed page. We just read some days to be reading so we can say, “I’ve read my devotional and Bible today. Now I can get on with life.” But isn’t life what reading those sacred words is all about? If it isn’t all rolled into one life, I don’t believe it will work. I’m rambling now but the thoughts are coming much too fast. Short version . . . your powerful post has moved me beyond comprehension of who I am, who I need to be, and how I got my life so messed and tangled. I’m ready to untangle with you, dear friend!

    • beyond the words on the printed page…yes. that, Sherrey! Oh how I’m striving. And I cannot tell you how blessed I am to have you here, sharing this journey with me. It means more than you know. Thank you so much. Trusting we can untangle misconceptions together. bit by bit!

  8. Pingback: Incompetence at its Finest « simplystriving

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