Like a whirlwind, she blew into the conference room, books and backpack slurping onto the table. She peeled off her stocking cap, scarf, and winter coat and collapsed into the chair across the table from me. The two of us were alone, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive for a committee meeting. My friend is a single mom and an ex-Catholic, with a host of extracurricular interests, enough to make me tired just knowing what she does outside of work. She is a war survivor, having served in the Croatian army during the Bosnian war. If the tales she could tell did not curdle your blood, they would drive you to tears. “I don’t think the human race is worth saving,” she declared that chilly morning. I could only imagine that something bad must have happened since the previous afternoon. “You know better than I do, but I have a good sense for what you mean,” I started. “But, God must think the human race is worth saving because He sent His own Son to die for it.”
* * * * *
In prayer this morning, I was struggling with the question of God’s interest in me, never mind His love for me. I understand, at least in part, what the apostle Paul wrote, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” Of what use, therefore, am I to God? He is entirely self-sufficient and does not need me for anything. In fact, I am so wicked that I would guess He would be better off without me.
And then my comment to my friend that wintery morning came to mind, only this time, it was phrased differently: “God must think I am worth saving because He sent His own Son to die for me.” But the minor change in wording wasn’t the true emphasis. I know that Jesus died for me. That is not in question. The real issue during this morning’s prayer revolved around why I am worth saving. There is something about me that is so worth saving that God was willing to pay an exorbitant price for me.
That God created me is not a trivial insight, a doctrine suitable only for small children, but is fundamental to understanding anything and everything else about God or life or myself. God created my body and He gave me life. This sounds like a two-step process; maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I separate them to be clear that both came from God. Regardless, God specifically made me, exactly like I am, with my strengths and weakness, my likes and dislikes, my passions and my disinclinations. (None of this is meant to imply that I am sinless, or that God is somehow responsible for my sin.) During the course of my life, like everyone else, to one extent or another, I have wrecked what God originally made. So, from before the foundations of the world and through to the present time, I have been His project. Christ’s redemption is part of that project. That the creative, redemptive, molding interplay between God and me has gone on largely unnoticed during my lifetime is due only to my blindness. Upon deep, prayerful reflection, God’s hand is evident everywhere in my life, and He has a goal. The finished product will be a Van Gogh, a Beethoven, a Shakespeare, a Tolkien… an unrivaled work of art. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” I prefer to think of God’s activity in my life as a “project” rather than as a “plan” because, in English, the latter implies something static and “set in concrete,” whereas my life feels much more like a project with its characteristic delays and diversions and distractions, midstream changes-of-plan, corrections for bad decisions and ill-advised moves, advances and retreats.
I do not have a vision of it yet, but God sees a finished product in me that was worth every drop of blood that Christ had to give.