Discovering Jesus as my rescuer

Written by Laura Richie
Published on January 06, 2023

If you had asked me ten years ago to describe who God is, my answer would’ve sounded theologically accurate. I would’ve listed names I knew were correct—Creator, Savior, “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). I grew up going to church every week, then became a missionary kid at age eleven, so I knew all the right answers. I had also read my Bible daily since age thirteen. I had a lot of knowledge, but more than that, I had a lot invested in being a good Christian. The stakes were really high—eternal life in heaven instead of hell. My tendency toward perfectionism mixed with conviction that my eternal destiny hinged on being a good Christian, created a very disciplined, very good, and very miserable girl.

Trying to be a good Christian

Though I never would’ve admitted it even to myself, deep down, I saw God as a task master who was always watching me, rewarding me for following the rules, and punishing me if I messed up. I tried so hard to be good enough. I hoped my list of accomplishments would be adequate: I was a straight A student through college, graduating summa cum laude in nursing; I read my Bible and prayed daily; I volunteered; I never smoked, drank alcohol, or did drugs; I went on mission trips; I saved my first kiss for my wedding day. I was always striving to add to my list of doing good, because no matter how hard I tried, I was scared it wouldn’t be enough.

I was fairly successful at propping up my identity as a good Christian, but one area concerned me: loving God with my whole heart and loving my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:29-31). I knew it was the greatest commandment, but it was so difficult. First of all, how was I supposed to love a God who was always watching me, waiting for me to mess up? I didn’t love him—I was scared of him and resentful of his impossibly high standards. Second, how was I supposed to consistently love people who so often interfered with my rule following? I kept plodding on, but it was stressful and tiring.

And then God blessed us with two pregnancies and two babies in less than two years. 

Never good enough

My stress and exhaustion peaked, while my performance and productivity crashed. I no longer had the energy to keep doing all the right things. 

One evening, I sank to the floor in my living room, exhausted and broken. I finally faced the terrifying truth that I could never do enough good to make God happy, because I could not consistently love God or others well enough. I couldn’t even love my babies perfectly, much less my neighbors! 

That night, I let go of twenty years of working to prove that I was a good Christian. It felt like stepping off a cliff blindfolded. But instead of falling into a void or sensing God’s anger at my lack of effort, I felt peace. I felt love. And I saw Jesus as he really was for the first time.

Jesus knew I couldn’t love him or others well enough. He knew I could never do enough good to outweigh the bad. He never expected me to follow all those rules on my own. That’s exactly why he came!

Jesus as my rescuer

That night, I saw Jesus as my rescuer who loved me. That one glimpse of his beauty and grace changed me. Now, when I open the Bible, I don’t see an endless list of rules and dire consequences for disobedience. I don’t see an angry God bent on punishing or refining people by fire into worthy vessels. In the pages of the Bible, I see a broken world full of broken people who constantly forget their need for God and who he truly is. I see the same thing inside myself and all around me. And through it all, I sense the steadily beating heart of God who rescues and heals and loves. He draws us to himself even when we fight him the whole way. Oh, I love him.

I no longer bear a crushing burden of earning my way into his favor—he already loves me. And now I want others to experience the freedom, peace, and love that I know. 

Soon after that pivotal night, I was listening to the song “Flawless” by MercyMe. As tears of gratitude slipped down my cheeks, I danced through my living room with my son, while my daughter watched and giggled. The grace of God is scandalous, beautiful, and utterly freeing. I pray my children, who are growing up in church, will see God as he truly is. I pray they will realize their need for him and see his beauty, love, and grace. And I pray they will run to him over and over, because his arms are open wide, just waiting to heal and rescue.

I pray the same for you.


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Laura Richie

Laura Richie is a wife, homeschooling mom and registered nurse. A missionary kid for several years, Laura confesses she didn’t truly understand her need to be rescued until later in life. Now she delights in sharing the beauty and grace of her Rescuer through her books, The Advent Storybook, The Easter Storybook and the latest release of The Go-and-Tell Storybook. Laura resides in Oklahoma with her husband and four children. For more information or to connect with Richie, visit https://laurarichie.com/.

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