The Christian Virtue of Inadequacy

“God, I just don’t have what it takes,” I blurted out and grabbed a sweater off the hanger.

The sound of my voice surprised me. I usually slog through mornings mute and zombi-like, but standing between the doors of my closet I felt trapped by my inadequacy—to deal with the politics at work, difficult patients, and another ten-hour day. Even worse, I was completely out of ideas—and had been for weeks—about how to connect my coworkers to the God who loves them.

My inadequacy twisted around me, squeezing the air out of my lungs. But, as my words scattered onto work pants and blouses, I felt an answer—the kind you’d never think of on your own, the kind that feels green when all your thoughts are purple. The answer was colored like this: “You being adequate was never the point. Not at the beginning, and not now.”

Just like that, God torched one of the portraits of him that I’d been hoarding. It’s a picture of God up in heaven. Sometimes he’s cheering me on. Other times he’s drumming his fingers on the throne. Always he’s waiting for my graduation day—the day when I’ll finally master being a Christian and get everything right. On my own. Without his help.

That’s a vision of God I need to feed to the zombies, and—if you have a similar picture of him in your wallet—I suggest you do the same.

I’m not sure where we got that vision. Maybe from the American Dream. Maybe from Sunday School lessons gone wrong. Or, maybe from the ancient Serpent, the same one who convinced Eve that she had a deficit that needed solving, on her own, without God’s help.

God isn’t waiting for us to master the art of being a Christian—not in the way that we conquered first grade math, said goodbye to our teachers, and could count to a hundred on our own. He’s not expecting for us to navigate the politics at work, without his help. He’s not hoping that we’ll grow our own supply of patience, and not need his. He’s not even waiting for us to introduce our coworkers to Jesus, apart of his involvement in the planning. God doesn’t demand adequacy from us. Ever.

Instead, God invites us to depend on him. Each morning in the closet, we have a chance to succeed where Eve failed—to realize that we don’t have what it takes to win at life, but that God does, and to accept his invitation to face the day with him, together, as a team.

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