Until my late twenties, I spent the majority of my Christian life striving—striving for perfection, for God’s favor, for the approval of others, and for the joy and freedom that the Bible spoke of yet completely eluded me.
In her forthcoming book, Nothing is Impossible with God, Rose Marie Miller describes my life as she depicts her own:
The gospel was not my working theology: Mine was moralism and legalism—a religion of duty and self control through human willpower. The goal was self-justification, not the justification by faith in Christ that the gospel offers. But, as many people can tell you, moralism and legalism can “pass” for Christianity, at least outwardly, in the good times. It is only when crises come that you find there is no foundation on which to stand. And crises are what God used to reveal my heart’s true need for him. (4)
Like Miller, I am a pastor’s wife, a church planting wife, and a missionary. Like Miller, I for so long lived a life of legalism, and, like her, ministry was the “crisis” that shone a light on my self-sufficiency and self-justification. I discovered quickly that I could not meet ministry’s demands, and I certainly could not love, according to bootstrap religion.