Confession: It has been a long time since I looked into a mirror and saw a much clearer picture of myself than I’ve ever seen before.
Last night my husband and I got ice cream (a reward for 200 points toward a goal, which is a long story) and sat next to each other on the couch to enjoy a podcast. This was a first-time share – podcast, not ice cream. I’m not big on podcasts. He listens to a lot of them, and updates me on the political, educational, and fascinating things I need to know. In return, I read quality literature of all stripes, and fill him in on the key elements, plot rundowns, and important (or disturbing) themes. We each have our services we offer.
But I see I am off my topic.
He’s been enjoying Michael John Cusick, of Restoring the Soul. We sat to listen together to a Cusick podcast my husband described that piqued my curiosity, The Four Gospels.
I sat licking my spoon. The ice cream was really good.
So was the sermon.
Cusick was not referencing the four Gospels as in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – but as in Cusick’s own journey toward God through four versions of the “good news” he told himself, about the way to get to God and what mattered most. He told of the Gospel of Performance, the Gospel of Experience, and so on. Each of his gospels had a particular question connected to it, as well as a spiritual currency – a perceived method of meriting favor, of having something to offer in the kingdom.
So I was lumping along, enjoying locally-made caramel and cashew delectability, and then suddenly, Cusick was talking about me. And I was crying, looking in that blinding mirror.
I saw myself in the Gospel of Activism. “How do I make a difference? Where can I serve?” I saw, unexpectedly, that a huge portion of my history with depression and anger has grown out of trying to experience the Gospel by this narrative. In it I am easily jaded, and very, very tired. Feeling ineffective and wretched because the world doesn’t change. Being upset at God for not making his people’s efforts more successful. Lamenting the heartbreaking waste I see of my own and others’ time and effort and focus. I see all the messed up things and I want God to heal them. I want God to help me change them. What are all our painful investments worth unless something changes?
Ever since I was a little girl, this is what I wanted – to make a difference. People can kindly, and sometimes truthfully, tell me I am doing it and I won’t believe them, because in Cusick’s words, “The currency of service with the gospel of activism is based on the fact that in our broken world there is an absolute, endless, infinite amount of need.” I can never make enough difference.
There is, thank God, another gospel, one that I have always subscribed to in my words but am still only beginning to capture in my heart. I am trying to understand how the world shifted under my feet last night, and how it looks from a new location. I believe in the power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I believe in what Cusick called his fourth gospel.
I am not going to tell you about it, though. I think you should listen for yourself.
We like the Stitcher app for listening to podcasts on our Android phones. Michael John Cusick’s podcast is called Restoring the Soul – also available on apps compatible with Apple devices. I’m referring here to Episode 90: The Four Gospels. In this episode, Cusick describes his journey out of sin and sexual addiction. I thought he did a good job of being clear and honest without being offensive or wallowing in details. But you will not want to listen to it while doing laundry with your children.
And just for the record, I did not take pictures of the ice cream last night, which came from the most excellent Casey’s in Meadville.