Playing Road Games With God

Friday when I left work, I picked up Sadie and my suitcase from home and headed into the blizzard on I-40. For an hour and a half, I drove through the most beautiful, huge, fluffy white flakes of snow. Sadie slept the whole way, so I played a “road game” with God. I put my iPod on “random” and let Him pick the songs that I would sing to Him. We both enjoyed this. He made some pretty great choices and I had a good time singing to Him. In retrospect, however, I can’t remember most of the songs He chose. Just that I felt that He chose well and that after a while, I think I was being blessed as much as I hope He was.

My iPod is sadly lacking in Christmas music—except for the entirety of Handel’s Messiah. But with all of the snow falling, Christmas was on my mind. And then, in a lightning bolt moment, I realized the gift that God really gave us at Christmas.

Oh, yes, I know. We’re heard it before. Christmas is really about Christ. God sent the Messiah into the world. Now, maybe I’m just talking to myself here. And if I am, that’s okay. But what does it really mean to say that Christmas is about Christ? That God sent the Messiah into the world? What does that really mean?

I’ve always (with the exception of a handful of stupid moments in my adolescence) been a rule-follower. I believe in being early everywhere I go. I believe in doing what I’m expected to do and not doing what I’m not supposed to do. I believe in love and kindness and taking care of my neighbor—even ones that aren’t so fun to love and take care of—because I know it’s what I’m supposed to do.

God gave us ten commandments. That’s cool. I like rules. I’m good with rules.

In theory.

You know, the Pharisees were good at rules, too.

In theory.

For a long time, I looked at the Bible as a rule book. Do this. Don’t do that. Say this. Don’t say that. And don’t even think about that! But the last ten years of my life, God has systematically been reprogramming me. And Friday’s realization was part of that.

You know, God gave laws to His children so that they would be safe, healthy, and happy. So that they would be blessed and would be a blessing to Him and each other. The problem was that they couldn’t be good enough. The sins in their lives pulled their hearts further and further away from God. And the further their hearts got from God, the less they could follow the rules.

I’m like that, too.

God knew that sin would always be between Him and His people. So He waited until the perfect time in history and in the words of my friend, John Hobbs, He squeezed Himself into a little baby. He came to earth in one of the most violent times in the history of the world and He did the only thing that He could do to give us a way back to Him permanently. He died for us.

God has given us many gifts. Life and breath. Our skills and talents. Sunshine and rain. Our families and friends and jobs and homes. But of all of the gifts God gave us, Jesus was the best. In Jesus, He gave us Himself. He gave us forgiveness once and for all.

A few years ago, when I went to the movie theatre to see The Passion of the Christ I wept through an entire package of Kleenex and then kept weeping until the entire front of my shirt was soaked. And the entire time, the thought that went through my mind over and over and over and over was, “I can’t believe someone did that for me.

But He did. Because He wants me to come be with Him—His bride—forever. And the ONLY thing I have to do is receive the gift.

When I was growing up, I thought that if I did and said all of the right things, that God would have mercy on me. But I’ve realized that nothing I do or say are good enough. The Bible says that the best that I do is still only as good as filthy rags.

In the words of singer/songwriter Jimmy Needham:

I tried Lord
I tried Lord
I tried hard to be Your good little boy
Chin up, head high
All zeal and no joy
Thinking all my good deeds could please Jesus
Boy, was I wrong
Though I knew the right songs, all my cymbals and gongs played the melodies wrong
And it wasn’t long ‘til I saw my disease
A life spent wanting to please
On hands and knees
To make right, to appease
God help me please
This can’t be Christianity, it can’t be
The whole thing’s like insanity
Where’s the rest of eternal security?
Where’s the hope of a God big enough to cope with all my hang-ups and insecurities?
Certainly this isn’t breathing
My chest burning and heaving
It’s like my pulse is ceasing
Like my heart quits beating
Yet this I recall to mind and therefore I have hope:
You died, Lord
You died, Lord
Assuredly, like the coming of the dawn, the Father’s love song goes on
Drowning out my bitter songs
And breaking through walls and barriers
Christ swoops in, removes sin, picks up His bride and carries her
So I can sing in agreement with the King this thing:
There’s only one thing that pleases the Father
The God-man on the tree in the midst of the scoffers
Now I finally see that Christ is what Christ offers

And I’m finally free in the love of the Father.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Sarah,
    Well said!


  2. Wonderful testimony…all of us in one time or another realizes this fact…..good for us to be reminded…keep writing, lady…..hasta luego y Feliz Navidad.

  3. The Passion of the Christ was a very moving movie. I remember weeping and crying out “I’m not worth it!”. It is amazing that He was willing to go through all that for me, and never cried out, “Nevermind! She is not worth it!”

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Helen, Jesus says we’re worth it and THAT’S the important thing! Hallelujah for that!

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