{Site currently under construction. Grace for my mess?}

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Good Christians Do.


Good Christians go to Africa.

Or, at the very least, to the soup kitchen.

They go to the bad neighborhoods and evangelize the homeless.  They risk their life in countries closed to the Gospel.  They give everything in order to serve.

And if I understood anything at all about Christianity, it was that my choice to follow Jesus was first and foremost a call to die. 

I knew that the only way to make God happy was to find those verses in the Bible about feeding the hungry and caring for the orphans and widows and live them wholly to the detriment of all else.  I knew that the only way to be a good Christian was to do something drastic in the name of the Lord… and that then, and only then, would I be enough in His eyes.

I didn't go to Africa.  I wasn't good enough to do that, after all, without a degree in Missions or International Ministry.  I didn't even have a passport, but I had a willing heart.

Instead, I went to Texas.  I cared for orphans.  I put on my Christian smile and my Christian uniform and I said the right catch phrases to be one of those women who give everything up for the calling to love the least of these.

Except that I wasn't.

I was drowning in my own effort, I was grasping for God in a dark, hopeless place inside myself – farther from Him than I'd ever been.  And I didn't know what to make of it.

I knew how it was supposed to work.  Good Christians go into full-time ministry, then God rewards them with warm fuzzy feelings and a gold star in the Book of Life.  That's how the equation was supposed to go – I'd been told that my entire Christian life – but no matter how I figured the numbers, my math just wouldn't line up right.  I couldn't get the right answer. 

I've never been good at math, so I puzzled over the integers.  Gave up belongings.  Check.  Left my family.  Check.  Cared for orphans.  Double checkcarry the one

But the pit continued to grow and the algebra of giving and serving continued to puzzle and I wondered if maybe Texas wasn't far enough but was afraid of what I already knew.  I wasn't a good enough Christian.  I wasn't satisfied with all this selflessness because I was a rotten, weak, selfish girl who probably hated all things holy and was doing more harm than good there, and Jesus probably couldn't love a girl like me anyway.

So I left.

In the leaving, I laid down my good Christian.  I left her in Texas where she belonged because I had no use for her anymore.  I scooted across the country with a moving truck of things I wasn't leaving behind this time in the interest of running… just getting away from the incredible expectation of the kind of life I knew I could never lead.  And I sort of whispered "I'm sorry" to the idea of serving Jesus with my whole life because I'd obviously failed at that whole thing, and I might as well just get back to my regular old failing life where I wasn't dragging anyone down with me.

But a funny thing happened.

Jesus met me.  Right there when I stepped foot out of the moving truck.  Right in the middle of my mess and though I'd looked for him all along, I found Him only when I looked beyond the expectation of the holiest kind of me.  Only when I had failed and admitted that I wasn’t holy at all and had no good at all in me – when I finally knew, once and for all, that my ugly, messy love just paled in comparison to the love of a Father that never had to try.

"Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God."                                  -2 Corinthians 3:5


We're reading through Emily P. Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl (affiliate link).  This week is chapters 2-3.  Join us... but even if you don't.... please, please read this fabulous book.  Truly life changing.  


  1. Wow what a journey, Cara! So powerful! I am so glad to have you along. I often have to question my motives for things that I supposedly to "for God" and find that sometimes I'm not! I can be doing it for selfish reasons or the "i'm supposed to" reasons. Thanks for this challenge today and for you! You have a beautiful heart and a story to share :)

  2. Wow...  What

  3. Oh my gosh... I could read your writing All. Day. Long.

    I love the math analogy that you wove throughout...
    And I love how honest and open you were/are.
    I can't wait to see what else He reveals through this book!!

  4. And now, that you have come to that place, He will be able to use you in so many ways. It is in the coming to the end of ourselves and our own abilities that He begins His work.  Beautiful post!

  5. Thank you for your honesty and your passion and your way of presenting things.  Lovely and useful.  God bless you!

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Your comments are such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing your valuable words.