Day 12

Making Room for the Lost Cause

Psalm 25:3, Psalm 28:6-9, Jonah 3:1-10, Luke 19:1-10, Acts 9:17-31, 1 Peter 2:9

BY Rebecca Faires

“Everybody, even the worst stinker on earth, is somebody for whom Christ died.”
– Robert Farrar Capon

I know so many stinkers. I bet you do too. The question of what to do about someone who seems like a lost cause is, frankly, often on my mind. I knew some real stinkers even when I was in middle school, and during those years I was very committed to reading The Lord of the Rings. All those years ago, dressed in my mithril shirt, clutching my sword of Gondor, and nibbling on lembas bread, I discovered the stinker to beat them all: Gollum.

Originally, he was just a normal hobbit, until he fell into some bad circumstances (found a dangerous object) and made some bad choices (murdered his cousin) that conspired to turn him into the wretched creature we all know as Gollum. Most of the “lost causes” I know got that way because of similar reasons: an unfortunate combination of bad choices and bad circumstances.

That instinct to be free of a “lost cause” is something many of us share, although we aren’t inclined to admit it. But, man, remember how Saul persecuted the church, and stood by, complicit, at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54–66)? God picked Saul up, turned him around one hundred and eighty degrees, and sent him in the other direction with instructions to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 9:20). God wasn’t done with Saul; He had a whole new life in store for him as Paul, follower of Jesus.

The story of Zacchaeus is similar, though instead of being a zealous Pharisee, Zacchaeus was a rich and “sinful” man (Luke 19:1–2,7). But like Paul, Zacchaeus repented when he met Christ (Luke 19:5–6). Both Paul and Zacchaeus turned from their old way of life, not because they sought Christ on their own, but because they were called to Him. The change in their lives didn’t happen because they were fed up with life and focused all their gumption toward making themselves better human beings. It was God who called them to Himself.

If you are a Christian today, it’s not because you are a better or more disciplined person than your “lost cause.” It is because of “the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). He calls us. He changes us. It is He who makes the difference in the lives of the broken, the stubborn, the sneaky, the exhausting, the terrifying, and the unlovely.

What do we do in the meantime? If it’s all up to God, does that get me off the hook? I would be so happy to go back to my second breakfast and let God deal with His own invitations to stinkers. Jonah definitely felt the same way: Good riddance, Nineveh, you bunch of eye-gougers! (Jonah 3:1–3; 4:1–3, my summation and paraphrase). Then God had to call both Jonah and Nineveh to obedience; He called Nineveh to repent and Jonah to deliver His message of repentance.

And there it is. God does the calling. God does the changing. We are called to pray and walk in obedience, even if our steps are slow.

We don’t know the exact end of the story. In spite of how much I wanted Gollum to be shoved off a cliff and go away already, at the end of The Lord of the Rings, he was necessary to save the whole world. Even the most seemingly hopeless case may still have a part to play. The gospel urges us not to give up, but instead to hope continually in quiet obedience.

Post Comments (128)

128 thoughts on "Making Room for the Lost Cause"

  1. Haley Johannesen says:

    I am my own lost cause. Dwindling and frayed. I feel drawn back into Gods love and pray this time I am strong enough to stay on the path of salvation.

  2. Carol Collins says:

    Yes! Thanks for the LOTR reference! My favorite book!

  3. Jennifer Brimer says:

    Prayers please for my husband- he is a Christian but I feel like we are running on two different operating systems when it comes to the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit. I often feel like it’s a lost cause. God simply asks if I trust him or not? I choose to trust in His power although it is difficult.

  4. G L says:

    I have a ‘lost cause’ in my life, my ex best friend, an extremely toxic relationship which is better left alone, please pray for her to find joy, peace and love that is only found in our Savior, prayers for her heart to be mended and reconciled to the Holy Spirit. And the same for me, Lord knows I’ve been unforgiving, in need of His grace and mercy. In Jesus name. Amen.

  5. Monica Davis says:

    Help me not to be a stinker yo god!

  6. Jill says:

    God this was good. Thank you for YOUR obedience.

  7. Ash says:

    “The gospel urges us not to give up, but instead to hope continually in quiet obedience.”
    Oh boy, do I need to work on my quiet obedience as I press on hopefully for those “stinkers”.

  8. Steph C says:

    “But you are … chosen … so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Each of us that knows Christ is a testimony of HIS initiative. He sought us, called us, redeemed us, and continues to transform us daily. It’s not about me pulling myself up by my bootstraps and “getting it done”, though at one time I thought it was. If God takes the initiative, accomplished the redemption, and precipitates the change … why should I despair of someone being a “lost cause”? I was once a lost cause – alienated from God by birth and by choice. He changed me and brought me into His kingdom of Light! He is the God of lost causes. ❤️

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