Grace for the Guilty Girl

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Grace for the Guilty Girl

My friend recently revealed a picture of Jesus that hangs in her home; a picture that she stole from the YMCA. She might not have been so forthcoming, but the picture held great significance to her first book and to her journey into grace.

There are no pictures of Jesus hanging in my home. When I met my husband and we began visiting some of his relatives, it was odd to see Jesus’ portrait on the wall along with all the family photos. I assumed it was a “southern protestant” thing.

I grew up in a Catholic home. There was at least one crucifix in every room. When we went to mass, there was a huge cross behind the altar. Jesus hung there quite gracefully despite the nails and the crown of thorns that pierced his skin.

I had a hard time reconciling all of these icons to a living Savior. At times I felt like a kid who just wanted to meet the “real” Santa Claus.

I met real Jesus in 1972. At seventeen years old I finally saw Jesus in the Gospel of John. Real Jesus. The Word. There was no way I could turn anywhere but toward him with everything I had.

As I look back at my relationship with him, I must admit that it took time for me to sort out all the influences of various representations of Jesus. When my sweet friend shared her book, Stolen Jesus with me, I followed her journey to discovering real Jesus and found myself nodding my head, laughing at her crazy stories and crying when the truth hit close to home.

Like Jami, I experienced the tension of reconciling actual life to the expectations of various religious practices and people. And like Jami, I thought it was Jesus making the demands. Every week I would listen to a sermon telling me what my life should look like. I tried so hard to keep the rules.

  • I felt guilty when I worked full time. Good moms, Godly Moms, stayed at home and raised their babies. But I knew in my gut that my babies needed health insurance.
  • I “prayed hard” for people with beer in their fridge while I struggled to reconcile how it was not sinful to overeat.
  • I dragged my children to church every time the doors opened while secretly resenting the stress of constantly running and the sacrifices our family was making.

I was a steaming cauldron of Catholic guilt and protestant legalism. Always compliant, I just wanted to please everyone, especially God. Despite my relationship with Jesus, I constantly doubted and mostly denied his grace.

When I began to follow Jami’s blog, I recognized a familiar pattern. We fail to keep all the rules; it’s impossible. Our faith wavers; we doubt. We beat ourselves up, give up and promise we will start new tomorrow or better yet, next week. When anything bad happened, I assumed it was God punishing us.

  • Car broke down? We didn’t tithe last week because the baby needed medicine. God strikes!
  • Owe taxes this year? I knew we should have given more to missions instead of taking a week of vacation. God strikes again!

If I had a picture of Jesus in my house those days, I would have turned his face toward the wall to escape his tender, yet disappointed gaze. I was on a performance track that was wearing me out and proving over and again that I just couldn’t measure up.

The truth of the Bible finally brought me to this realization:

There is nothing more to be done. I cannot add nor subtract anything from the truth that in Jesus I am righteous and God is good. My righteousness is in Him alone.

“Under the new covenant I am righteous. The work is completed. I am obedient to callings on my life not out of terror but out of love that seeps from me, because God is good.”[1]

I am so thankful that Jami has written this book, sharing her journey with so much candor and wit. I readily admit that I’m biased. She’s a generous person who has lifted my chin again and again. She was the first “for real” writer to notice me and I am forever grateful.

Aside from all of that, I would still recommend her book to you. While the subject matter is serious, she weaves humor and story into every chapter. I pray that if you relate to these words, you will read to the very end:

“For years I had professed an adoration for Jesus Christ, but in my poor state on that night, I knew it was more habit than relationship, more culture than worship and more clan than companionship.”[2]

Follow Jami to Jesus, friend. You’ll find grace and peace in his presence.

By his grace alone,

lorraine

Purchase your copy of Stolen Jesus from any of the following online retailers:

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[1] Jami Amerine, Stolen Jesus, Harvest House Publishers

[2] Jami Amerine, Stolen Jesus, Harvest House Publishers

3 responses »

  1. I actually heard a Pastor say one time “God’s gonna get you one way or another, if you don’t tithe he’ll make sure you don’t have access to that money. You think you can outsmart God but he’ll get ya’. Something will come up to make sure that you don’t use that 10% yourself, so you may as well give it now.” I believed this for the longest time. I agree Lorraine, there is absolutely nothing we can add to the work He has already done. I loved Stolen Jesus so much! Love you girls!

    Liked by 1 person

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