The Mockingbird Devotional: Finding Grace and Being Found

After scrolling through my Twitter feed and seeing a prominent Christian leader post something that […]

Charlotte Donlon / 5.23.17

After scrolling through my Twitter feed and seeing a prominent Christian leader post something that made me want to climb in my bed, pull my down alternative comforter over my head, and hide from the world; I tweet-confessed that remembering the gospel doesn’t undo the bad stuff. My proclamation got a couple of likes so there are at least two other people in the world who might agree that oh-remember-the-gospel-and-god-and-the-kingdom-everything-is-better-now just doesn’t work sometimes. Maybe we aren’t Christian-y enough, but using the gospel and the reality of God’s kingdom as a bandaid for all that is wrong in the world isn’t making the wounds disappear.

This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on God. But that isn’t what matters anyway as I attempt to examine where I’m at with regard to self, God, and others while difficult circumstances swirl throughout various spheres of my life. What matters is God hasn’t given up on me. Maybe that’s what people are saying when they state there’s Good News even in the midst of suffering. It doesn’t always come across that way, though. I hear the man on Twitter saying, “If you believed the gospel enough, you wouldn’t be bothered by political drama, illness, relational stress, and any other sign that all is not right with the world.”

I’ve been reading The Mockingbird Devotional this month so I’ve been bathed in a message of Good News that isn’t validated by me believing it or me remembering it. David Zahl kicked off the tone for me in the May 1 passage. He writes about what it means to be free in Christ saying:

The cross of Christ both exposes the futility of our efforts at establishing ourselves and answers them. It ushers in the real freedom that we are loved and valued, not according to what we do, but what Jesus has done. That is, we are good because God is good, not because we are good. The shackles are off, once and for all!

When I re-read these words and type them out, I feel less pressure to live up to any expectation that requires me to act right and respond well to difficult circumstances. God turns my face to look at Him—to look at His works on the behalf of His children—and He turns me away from anyone who is asking me to perform the role of the happy Christian who forces a smile and plays the part others think we should play. That’s where my freedom lies. Because of Jesus’s work on the cross, God fixes my gaze on Jesus and removes my Inability To Get It Together from the equation. I am good because God is good, not because I am good. I believe because God has acted and remained faithful to draw me to Him, not because anything in me is good at remembering the gospel or moving toward a perfect and holy God.

Paul Walker extends the message in the May 6 devotion by writing about how God isn’t surprised by my failings. He’s not wagging His finger of disapproval at me because I’m refusing a gospel bandaid right now.  Walker writes:

There’s no need to pretend to be something you are not. That is gracious of him, isn’t it? And wise too. After all he is the One to whom “all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden after their own hearts were corrupted. But to no avail; God found them out just as He has found us out.

God knows I think the gospel bandaid is insufficient. He’s not surprised at all. But my lack of belief or lack of faith or whatever you want to call it does nothing to impact my standing in Christ. It does nothing to change God’s abundant grace that is poured out on me every second of every day. He finds me where I am—confused and discouraged by the effects of the world, the flesh, and evil. I don’t need to pretend I’m someone I’m not. I need the reality of Jesus and I need the reality of His work on the cross.

From my short flirtation with The Mockingbird Devotional, I can confirm what Ethan Richardson writes in its introduction. He says:

Inspired by the Bible itself, we have sought to address the problems of insecurities of everyday life, to bring comfort in the midst of suffering and clarity in times of confusion. Unlike the contemporary vernacular of maintenance manuals and self-help tapes and do-it-yourself blogs, this devotional looks to the repeated refrain of one story: an afflicted, obstinate people in the grip of God’s equally obstinate forgiveness—most fundamentally demonstrated in the death and resurrection  of Jesus Christ.

So by God’s grace, I’m going to keep reading these devotions about His grace. And even if I never join some of my Christian brothers and sisters who claim that remembering the gospel and the Kingdom of God can be balms in these trying times and circumstances, God Himself will continue to proclaim His truths. He’ll proclaim them to me now when I’m tempted to hide from the world, and He’ll proclaim them throughout eternity when bandages will no longer be sought.

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