If outward displays of service and compassion are the leafy foliage of a plant, the part you can see, touch, and point to, then our Christ identity is like the hidden roots that go down deep into the dark earth and hold it all up. Without the roots, the leafy plant dies.
I spent a lot of my time trying to make the flowers bloom out of sheer will. I wanted the beauty that came from a healthy, beautiful, blooming plant, but the only fruit I seemed to produce on my own was either dried out, too ripe, or simply not enough. Growing up in the church, I got the message that salvation is by faith alone, but life after that is faith plus my hard work and good disposition. I stayed strong when I felt weak and I faked happy when I wanted to cry because my ideal image had everything to do with put together and nothing to do with falling apart. I didn’t understand the mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory.
I thought he wanted me to serve for him, to witness for him, to live for him. But that isn’t what he wanted.
I have become aware of the futility of my own efforts to please the God I thought was distant, passive, and expectantly waiting for me to get it right. I worked hard, I did the right things, I never got drunk, I sang in the youth choir, I went to Bible College, I married a youth pastor.
But it’s hard to bloom when you’re either doing so much for God and you don’t know why, or you can’t find the energy to do anything for him because it never seems like enough.
I was determined to get life right while also painfully aware of all the ways I was wrong. And so to cover for myself, I hid. I stayed hidden behind my sweet personality, my strength and responsibility, my fine-how-are-you’s and my servant heart, hoping that my paper face would cover for my inadequacies.
I was trying so hard to live for God that I missed the point. He never asked me to live for him. Through his Son Jesus Christ, he lovingly invites me to live from him. One letter makes all the difference.
Before we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, before we can go out and love without condition, we have to first understand who Jesus is in us. Otherwise, we are living out a self-made gospel, a gospel that boasts all flowers and leaves but no roots, which is really no gospel at all.
The life of Christ in us makes the difference between the church and Hollywood or The Red Cross. And not just historical Jesus or on-the-cross Jesus or when-I-get-to-Heaven Jesus, but Jesus in me. Jesus living his real Jesus life through believers who trust that he died a real death and rose up to real life to make a true difference.
And so I’ve written a book about the roots, about kind of hiding we do when we fear we aren’t good enough, and the kind of finding God does because he knows he is. It’s a book about the hidden inside parts, about the invisible roots, about the impossible expectations I put on myself and about the God who lifts me up.
And this book has no title.
I am so nervous asking for your help. But help? Because I know you can. You are writers and creative thinkers. No idea is a bad idea at this point. I am stuck in my own head and I want to have some good ideas to offer to the marketing team. So if you have any good ideas, or even bad ideas, or medium ideas, this would be the time to put them in the comments. Or even if you just have a word or two words or an image or a fraction of an idea that you think could communicate the message of this book, that would be helpful too. Thank you and thank you. And thank you.