The good news of the gospel is so very good…
It’s so winsome and lovely. So life-giving and beautiful, beyond anything we’ve ever seen or heard.
Yet, if we’re not careful, it can be shrouded and nearly forgotten with all kinds of work-based “shoulds” and “have-tos” we humans try to add to the completed work Jesus did on the cross.
I know it can happen. Because I came very close to missing the Good News myself.
Though I was raised in a Christian home and a wonderful grace-filled church, somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that I had to work hard for God’s favor.
That while salvation was free, the rest was up to me.
Adding to the Cross
I’m not sure how it got all messed up in my heart and mind. Somehow, the Good News turned into a list of rules. Rules that had to be perfectly kept if I wanted to be fully accepted and loved by God.
While Jesus may have met me with a warm hug of welcome at salvation, in my twisted view, it was as though He’d tossed me in the ocean then stood back with arms crossed, saying, “Sink or swim, baby. Sink or swim.”
So I swam. Really, really hard. Trying to be good, do good, be good, do good for Jesus.
But no matter how hard I tried, it was never enough. Oh, there were beautiful moments when I sensed God’s love, but it wouldn’t be long before a failure on my part would interrupt that connection and obliterate the closeness I’d felt.
As a result, I spent the majority of my young adulthood waking up to a dark cloud hovering over my life. A sense of impending doom and fear of failure that kept me running breathless, trying to earn God’s favor and satisfy my own desperate need to succeed.
Finally the weight of my own holiness became more than I could bear. Here’s how I tell the story in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy With God in the Busyness of Life…
I’ll never forget crying in the darkness one night many years ago. My husband was an associate pastor at a large church, and our lives were incredibly busy. Carrying a double portfolio of music and Christian education meant we worked long hours on project after project, and the size of the church meant there were always people in need.
I would go to bed at night worried about the people who had slipped through the cracks—the marriages in trouble, the children in crisis. I worried about all the things I didn’t accomplish and should have, about all the things I’d accomplished, but not very well.
I remember clinging to my husband that night and sobbing as he tried to comfort me. “What’s wrong, honey?” he asked, caressing my hair. But I couldn’t explain. I was completely overwhelmed.
The only thing that came out between sobs was a broken plea, “Tell me the good news,” I begged him. “I honestly can’t remember… Tell me the good news.”
God didn’t answer me immediately that night. But in His mercy, He allowed me to come to the end of myself so I could find grace. Wonderful, amazing grace. Grace that, once received, began evangelizing every corner of my mind with the incredible too-good-to-be-true, fear-shattering power of the gospel. [Read more…]