I journeyed to the middle of nowhere this weekend to find God.
That and see my mother.
We met in a McDonald’s parking lot for a ladies’ retreat Friday evening. Then we got pumpkin milkshakes and preached revival to Ron with the Red Shoes.
Actually, we didn’t. We just took advantage of the plumbing facilities and then drove the rest of the way to the conference center together.
(That reminds me of a joke. How can you identify Ronald McDonald on a nude beach? He’s the only one with sesame seed buns. Hahahahaha….um…yaaaah. Lame. That’s my specialty.)
I’ll tell you a secret: I didn’t really go to find God. I just went to see my mom.
Don’t tell God.
It doesn’t matter, though, because regardless of whether or not I wanted to swap howdies with Him, He tracked me down. Pinned me to my seat. And gave me some big news.
This retreat, He said, is tailor-made. Just. For. You.
I’ll tell you another secret: at this point, all I can do is gulp.
And scoot my chair just a little closer to my mom’s.
You know, to remind Him why I came.
The first question the speaker asked was: off the top of your head, what comes to mind when you think of God? I wrote down powerful. Part of me wanted to write distant.
Second question: what does God think of you? Everyone else wrote nice things like ‘He loves me’ (true, true) and ‘I’m His child’. Oh, yes ma’am, you are. I am, too. But I write: Impatient and disappointed for continual failure.
Because that’s how I’ve been feeling for the past, oh, long time.
Old news: I’m a failure.
I can’t keep house.
I can’t keep friends.
I can’t make friends.
I can’t live up to expectations.
I can’t love.
I don’t love.
I don’t read my Bible enough.
I don’t always want to go to church.
I can’t forgive.
So obviously, I can’t be close to God.
Third question (from the speaker at the women’s retreat): How did God come to love you? and this time she gave the answer: it wasn’t anything I earned by being a good person or doing things He liked. He decided He would love me, and so He did. And He did it through Christ, who when He died on the cross took all of God’s wrath for MY sins on Himself, so that God can look on me with love rather than anger. Right. I know that. Christ’s cross bridges the gap between God’s holiness and my sin. That’s how I’m saved.
Fourth question: How does God continue to love you? Oooooh, this is the clincher, isn’t it, Cristy? Because even though you said you were sorry for sinning against Me, you continue to sin. Even though you say you want to glorify Me, you continue to do things that you know displease Me. Even though you profess to love Me, you continue to live in a way that denies your love for Me.
You let Me down.
You fail Me.
Ev. Ry. Day.
So how can I–a Holy GOD–still love you? How can I not be disappointed in you, you dirtbag of a scum bomb who over and over and over and OVER take the riches of My goodness and grace and stomp them in the mud?
God continues in His love for me the same way He started: with Christ’s cross bridging that ever-growing gap between my sin and His holiness. NOT because I please Him in how I live, or because I show forth fruits of faith, or because I do good things in His name, or because I love Him. Nothing that I did before I became a Christian made me somehow worthy of His love. And neither can I earn its continuance with anything I’ve done since. Rather, Christ’s cross grows along with my realization of the depth of my own sinful heart. God still looks at me and sees Christ’s righteousness, no matter how many times I blow it. Again, and again and again and again, the cross is enough.
Christ is sufficient.
God loves me.
Me, the failure. Yep, even me.
He still does.
Thank God. Thank-you, God.