Remember those old Mad Libs where you and your friends would fill in the blanks with words like “burp”, “booger” and “fart”.
Fess up, I know I wasn’t the only one.
I kinda wish Mad Libs had come out with a mandatory one for my first year of college.
It might have looked something like this:
Hi, I’m ____________ and I am _____________.
I would have done alright for the first blank – I’ve been writing my name since Kindergarten so that would be an easy A.
But that second blank was something I tried to fill with a lot of words that didn’t fit. Unfortunately, I kept trying to fill the Mad Lib of my life waaaay beyond my college years.
I thought a career or job fit so I spent more time and money than I want to admit on getting a degree. I tried to cram it into that blank but it wouldn’t fit.
Since that didn’t work, so I tried character traits like “determined” and “successful”.
It has a nice ring – I am determined and successful.
I kind of liked that one, except when I didn’t feel very determined or successful. And what about the days I was sick or crabby? Determination phoned it in right behind success and I was left with a blank.
For most of my life I filled the blank with I am “Christian”.
I rode that pony for a long time.
I could still be a Christian even on the days when I was sick and Jesus passed out grace like candy at Mardi Gras so I was okay even on the days when I was crabby.
I rode it until I didn’t really want to be known as a Christian anymore – because I was burned out from trying to be some image of what I should look like but could never attain to.
It was a smooth ride until my pony died.
So, then for a long time I just was. . . blank.
Hi, I’m Joyce and I am blank.
I had run out of words and now my blank was just a blankity blank.
I kept hearing this echo in my spirit, saying I didn’t have to prove anything or become anything.
I shooed it away like a nuissancy fly.
Looking back I realize I could have saved myself so much wasted time, energy, and money by heeding that still, small voice.
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
Galatians 2:19-21 (MSG)
Hi, I’m Joyce and I am loved.
Who are you?