I have spent this past week back home in Moultrie. Yep, my last experience at home – and the return to Raleigh – was so great that I came back for round two. I’m a glutton for punishment like that. But South Georgia is just so gloriously wonderful to my soul right now that I couldn’t stay away. People. I’m talking picking strawberries fresh and ripe and red and juicy, still warm with field heat and oozing sweetness from the field right down the road. I’m talking big ole honking blackberries plucked in abundance out of a friend’s backyard. I would have paid a minimum of my right arm and $50 to purchase that many blackberries in the store. I’m talking our hometown coffee shop, Beans and Strings, where you can not only get your cup of Joe, but guitar lessons to boot. Not sure about the rest of Moultrie, but I’m probably going to need a whole lot more than 12 oz of caffeine to even begin to comprehend how to play a guitar – or any musical instrument for that matter. I’m talking visits to the local canning plant where Moultrie’s finest come out to put up their bounty of harvest. I’m talking childhood friends that know me and all my crap…and somehow still love me. I’m talking all of mama’s homecooking that I can get my hands on, as if I am incapable of cooking for myself in Raleigh, and free lunches out to eat with my dad. Geez. No wonder I came back.
While I am home, I am trying to knock some things off my to-do list that I just can’t seem to find the time for back in NC. One of those is beginning the process for going back overseas. The initial information gathering that my sending organization requires for those looking to go overseas involves nothing less than promising to sacrifice your first-born child. And here is where I really have the advantage – I don’t have any children! Ha! It involves documenting every job you ever applied for or college you have ever considered attending as well as every city you’ve ever looked at on a map, not to mention if you lived in said city. And no, I’m not being dramatic about this at all. It also involves documenting every religious or spiritual experience you have ever had in the entirety of your life. Can I tell you how weird it is to answer some of those questions? To be, for lack of a better word, evaluated based on how well you have excelled in the Christian faith. One of my greatest (and really, most pathetic) skills in life is that I am an excellent test taker. Why else do you think I keep going back to school? In general, school and tests are things that come easy to me – this past semester being an exception. However, when I start filling out that questionnaire about my Christian walk, I feel like I have failed the test. Gracious, it is an awkward and vulnerable thing to have to list your spiritual qualifications as if you were applying for the position of greatest Christian ever.
What are your spiritual gifts? (Dry humor and witty sarcasm are spiritual gifts, right?) How are you currently using your spiritual gifts? (Well, I do use my sarcasm on a daily basis.) What ministry are you currently involved in within the church? (Most days this past semester, I was doing good to get to church. Is that going to be a problem?) What spiritual disciplines are you currently practicing? (Does attempting to get 8 hours of sleep a night count as a discipline?) Are you currently sharing your faith? (Well, I share everything….on my blog.) How many mission trips have you been on in your life? (Does two years overseas count as a “trip?”) How are you currently interacting with internationals? (There are a lot of hispanic people in my hometown.)
Is my name Jesus? No. Gracious me. Talk about being found wanting.
Let’s call this what it is, a job interview. And just like any interview, they want to know if you are truly qualified for the position. But let’s also not confuse this with what it means to be a follower of Christ. Yes, we should be doing all of these things, but these things do not earn us our Christian status. They don’t make us a Christian. They don’t get us into heaven. Because of the work already done by Christ on the cross, we should be doing these things in response to the grace he has shown our lives. I may be found wanting on that questionnaire, but in God’s eyes I am already accepted because of my faith in his Son. For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, not by works, so that no man can boast.