I have a bad habit of making mental lists in pretty much every area of my life. It’s a very nice organized way to compare myself with others, figure out what “good enough” is, and mark boxes to show how hard I work. And it makes the perfect recipe for legalism, hollow actions, and a cycle of guilt and shame. Growing up, I had a whole mental list of how to be a good Christian that I picked up through the years, but many items didn’t really make sense or were not God’s call on my life. It was difficult to realize that even though my checklist might look really godly—daily devotionals, memorizing scripture, going on the mission field, evangelizing to neighbors, saying yes to everything…it was not, in fact, God’s checklist: declare with your mouth and believe with your heart.
Once I began to lay aside my own pride and humbly believe that it was only my faith in God and surrendering to Him that my “to-do’s” melted away. I no longer felt a burden of things I had to do to be a good Christian—I read the Bible because God created a longing in my heart to know Him more, not because I had to check it off; relationships with neighbors were organic and Spirit-led; He began to guide me, equip me, and call me in new ways that were life-giving and not a burden. And the mission field He called us to turned out to be a toddler-sized one in our home, our neighborhood, and our work. My resurrection story is a little less Lazarus coming out of the tomb, and a little more watching paint dry—boring and tedious and a little embarrassing how long it takes me, but I’m thankful every day for God’s patience.