I was a freshman in college when I first started dating my wife Lynn. It was the end of our freshman year and we started dating just before the end of school. All of a sudden, she was all the way out to Stroudsburg, PA — about 1200 miles from MN. So of course during the summer I decided that I needed to drive out and see her, two hour phone conversations just weren’t quite enough. So I took my first visit to PA. And it also ended up being my first visit to the Vanity Fair outlet malls in Reading.
Cheap jeans. But not just cheap jeans, even cheaper than cheap jeans. I was introduced to jeans that were even cheaper than cheap outlet jeans. I remember the very first time I found the “as-is” room.
Do you know what I’m talking about? The “as-is” room — sometimes referred to as the “slightly irregular” room. Which for those of you over 50 has absolutely nothing to do with bathrooms. The “as-is” room was the place where slightly ir-regular jeans went to be sold. This was the place to find cheap (college-priced) jeans.
As long as you understood that the jeans in this room were less than perfect, damaged goods, not normal. That’s why they come “as-is.” The store is issuing you a general warning that nothing in this room is guaranteed to be flaw-free. There might be a stain that won’t come out, or a zipper that won’t zip, or a button that won’t click, or a stitch that zigs when it should’ve zagged.
They never told you where or what the flaw was. You had to look for it. They were just letting you know that sooner or later if you look, you will find. This garment is not flaw-free. It comes as-is, no returns, no refunds.
Now if you are in a public space, take a moment and look around. Go ahead, I’ll stop writing for a moment so that you don’t miss anything. …. Okay please hear me say this with the utmost of grace and kindness. If this was the outlet mall in Reading, when you walked in you would’ve seen a great big sign across the door, labeling this the “as-is” room of life. Every person here comes with the warning “slightly ir-regular.” There is not a single person in those room who comes flaw-free. If you look you will find it; .
- – You will find a person who can’t wait to cut down her friends, because it makes her forget for a moment all the stuff she hates about herself.
- – You will find the guy who has an out-of-control temper.
- – You will find a sarcastic tongue that makes some people laugh and some people feel bad.
- – You will find streaks of dcptn, & hearts lacking integrity.
- – You will find laziness, grumpiness, obsessive-compulsiveness, the stains of sins past, broken hopes and dreams.
I can’t tell you what it is or where you will find… I just want to make sure you know that it’s there. Some of us just hide it better than others. We wear our flaws on the inside, behind the closed doors of a bricked up heart; some of us pretend that we are normal. But Jesus; set the standard of normal in God’s economy and right now, “as-is” is all we got. And in our heart of hearts, most of us know that, don’t we?
But here is the Good News — If you are a follower of Jesus, when God looks at you, He doesn’t see you “as-is.” He sees you “as-will be.”