Huh? The thought broke through my inner dialogue, stopping all my other thoughts in their tracks. When I slowed down to listen, all the disjointed pieces of thought and emotion that have been floating around me in a sea of anxiety also slowed. As if they were fishes caught on the end of a line, they were reeled in, inch by inch, yard by yard, toward this prevailing force. The timing was perfect; I needed the intervention. Drawn toward a Good Friday death, on the cusp of a Sunday resurrection, I followed the trail to this thought that I knew didn't come from nowhere.
Here I've been, during the season of intentionally remembering and adoring Jesus for the great lengths He went to, willingly, to pay the price for my sins and restore me to life and relationship with God, obsessed not with Him, but with my own shortcomings. Caught again in a mindset of performance, basing my sense of failure or success in God's eyes on my own actions, instead of on Jesus' actions on my behalf. I've all but ignored the work Jesus finished on the cross and set into motion with His resurrection. For several years now, I haven't been able to shake off this deep sense of failure, that I have, in fact, failed God and can never make things right again. The truth is, I never can make things right with God. But the second part to that truth is that Jesus has already made things right between God and I for me.
A wonderfully simple and poignant thought was planted in my head this week while reading a book called The naked gospel: the will of God is nothing more than Christ in me and my life hidden in Christ. All my identity is in Him - not in what I do or don't do, what I accomplish or fail at, where I come from or who I know, my virtues or my vices. That means all my successes are also in Him.
Think about it: if we are in Christ and Christ is in us, and He cannot fail (and indeed, has already won the ultimate victory), then the only logical conclusion is that we cannot fail God either. What is there to fail at that Jesus has not already covered, paid for, taken care of and triumphed over? I surely cannot add to or take away from what He's already done, either with my sins or with my good deeds. God cannot forgive me more than He already did when the blood that poured from His beloved Son trickled down the cross and spilled to the ground. To think I can somehow obtain more forgiveness seems to imply that Jesus' sacrifice didn't actually finish the job; to obsess with my shortcomings, as offensive as saying to God's face, "Yeah, I know Jesus took care of it, but I just want to make sure we're good."
How much precious time I've wasted going cross-eyed staring at my own blemishes, instead of staring at the beauty of Jesus until those crossed eyes are healed.
That's why the timing of this gentle correction feels so... right. What a perfect time to call it good, to turn my gaze from my own darkness and behold the perfect, spotless, emanating light of Jesus. Maybe then I'll finally believe that God does not see me as I do. Maybe then I'll accept this merciful mystery, that when God looks at me, He sees Christ in me.