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The End of the Beginning

April 9, 2015

Sometimes we struggle to identify the blurry lines between our beginnings, our middles, and our endings. Life can be messy and endings can slam into other beginnings faster than we can sometimes manage to close the door on the previous chapter. Things aren’t always as linear as we might hope. Times of transition get muddied in the mix of the grandiose and the mundane.

In just four days I will board a plane with a one-way ticket and return home to Indiana.

In case you’re just now tuning in, I have been on the road for six months with Tim & Lynn Tuggle, missionaries who traveled horseback from California to North Carolina from 2010 to 2014. While my purpose with them has been multifaceted, the primary reason the Lord called me to this journey has been to write down their stories from their time on horseback and, Lord willing, see it become a published book.

I am not an author, nor have I an education in journalism. If you had told me a year ago that I would soon be taking off on the road with horse missionaries, I would have laughed. Quite hard. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Human Services Counseling. What the heck am I thinking that I could ever be qualified to write a book? And what’s the deal with horses? I’m not a horseman. I know nothing of this cowboy life. These are all things–excuses–that I, myself, have offered up to God as rational and sensible and worthy of consideration.

What I have learned in all of this is that God’s ways are not the ways of man. He doesn’t check on your credentials before He writes down His plans for you. Perhaps it’s an overused cliche, but it’s true nonetheless–God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

So the question isn’t, for what am I qualified? The question is, what is He saying?
When someone calls for you, they have something to say, right? So what is He saying?

If we want to live lives of any semblance of utter faith and trust and dependence on the Lord, we have to be willing to do things outside of our boxes. In fact, throw away the boxes. Get rid of them. If you keep empty boxes strewn around everywhere, you’ll be tempted to put things in them.

So here I am, at the end of a six-month journey, about to head home.

Now what?

For six, jam-packed months I have seen and heard and watched and listened and observed and absorbed.

And now it’s time to tell the world.

Or I guess just anyone who wants to hear.

Because, see, that’s the thing. I don’t have big aspirations to be a writer. To be famous. To be “successful.”

Tim and Lynn have met literally thousands of people on their horseback journey. Not thousands of acquaintances. Thousands of deeply intimate, Spirit-filled bonds. I have truly never seen anything like it. There is no question that there are people out there who would find a book about their story to be desirable.

But none of that matters.

Listen. Please listen to me.

God did not call you to be successful.

Are you listening?

“Success” in the spiritual realm of relationship with God is spelled F-A-I-T-H-F-U-L.

That is the only gauge of success that God has. Am I faithful? Am I faithful to the calling He has placed before me? Never mind the credentials. Never mind the abilities and the talents and the skills. He uses them, He does not consult them.

God did not call us to work really, really hard and to be really, really good at things. That’s not the point.

I could go home in four days and sit down and attempt to write a book (which I have absolutely no idea how to do) and work really hard and research all the tips and all the methods and read all the books about the smartest, most modern, most up-to-date, most cost-efficient ways to publish and to market and so on. I could work for months and months, day in and day out, successfully break through the mighty fortresses of writer’s block, edit, tweak, re-write, revise, and rework until I am blue in the face and the grammar is perfect and the run-on sentences have all been omitted, and I have everything exactly like I want it to the utter best of my ability.

And I could somehow manage to get the book published and somehow get it on a shelf somewhere with a pricetag on it and someone, somewhere, who probably knows Tim  and Lynn and is expectant to read their written story will purchase it. And it’ll all be done, and great, and wonderful, right?

Is that the point of all of this?

To somehow tackle this giant beast in front of me and see a book end up on a shelf with a horse on it and perhaps my name?

I could manage to do all of those things.

And without total and complete trust in the Holy Spirit,
And without the first priority of listening to God,
And without being led by who God is and what God has said and what God is saying,

This will all be a complete waste of time. It will be dead. Lifeless. Powerless.

I am simply not interested in doing anything out of my own strength, on my own understanding, making human sense. Because, see, none of this has made any real human sense from the beginning, so how could I ever start there now? And why would I even want to do this in my own strength? What a horrendous, stressful, heavy burden. I would buckle. I couldn’t do it.

What this all comes down to is the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.

Without Him, without His presence, without His leading, this is all a big joke.

There is a saying in the Christian world that has attempted to combat the notion of religiosity– “It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship.” I have personally said and heard this countless times in my life.

The irony of that statement, though, is that it usually only fits inside the “Counteracting Legalism” box, and far too rarely does it set a man free to trust in the Person of Jesus for both the every-day and the life-altering decisions. To come to Him and sit at His feet and–heaven forbid–wait on a word from Him.

We say it’s about a relationship, and yet we revert back to religious, man-made customs to guide and direct our lives.

Shouldn’t a journalist be writing this book?
Shouldn’t I be getting a job in my field of study?
Shouldn’t I be working a real job to put food in my stomach?

Whose standards are all of these?

What I’m getting at with all of this is that I feel incredibly unqualified to do any of the things I am currently doing and about to begin doing. And it is precisely in that place of discomfort that I am reminded of my deepest places of conviction: The depths within my spirit where He has deposited His unfailing word, His unshakable calling over me to pen this story. And it is there that His Spirit whispers to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. And I go on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Who did David think he was, going from shepherding sheep to sitting on a throne?
Who did Mary think she was, going from alleged fornicator to mother of the Messiah–God in human flesh?
Who did Saul think he was, going from legalistic Pharisee, murderer of Christians to Apostle Paul–author of much of the New Testament?

Who does Christie Cox think she is, going from degree in Psychology to writing a book about horse missionaries?

The most important question you can ask about yourself is, “Who do I think I am?”

Each person in the aforementioned list, including myself, would answer–I am a listener of God.

God’s sense defies logic. He defies human reasoning. He loves to defy our common sense because He’s God. He works impossible things and makes them possible. In writing this book, the process is about me and Him. If it gets written, it doesn’t matter if one or one million ever read it. I will have done what He asked me to do, and His glory is enough for me. The only way we are doing truly crazy things is if God did not say to do them.

Listen.

No relationship can grow or thrive if we will not listen.

And so, I have reached the end of the beginning. The end of the travels and the gathering of information and the watching and seeing and the boot camp of learning extreme faith.

I now go home, and I begin to write.

But mostly….
I listen.

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8 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Cathy April 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Well, you’ve done something here girlfriend! Excellent post! Listen, the final word.

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    Reply Anita Briggs April 9, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Christie, you have truly become a beautiful and faithful young woman of God. I am proud to know you. God Bless you in your future endeavors. Love and prayers .

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    Reply Pastor Doug Goforth April 10, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Christie, you have been with Tim and Lynn and have a great friendship and relationship with them. You have seen firsthand what God has called them to do and how they do it with such ferver and passion. God placed you with them so you could see firsthand what God can do when people are sold out to Him. Not many are willing to give all to follow the Lord. God wants you to write down what you have witnessed so that others struggling with doing God’s will might know that there is joy and blessing in doing things God’s way. My life has been touched by their ministry and I will always be thankful for getting to know them, meet them and you. Just be the willing vessel and God will use you to do what He has placed you in their lives to do for such a time as this!

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    Reply Lou Alice Collins April 10, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Christie, if I had just one tenth the writing ability that you do, I would have written ten books by now. Well, who knows? Maybe it’s just that I wasn’t called to do so, and he’s had me doing other things, (and I hope I’ve made a difference in the lives of my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren). But you nailed it! It’s all about listening to God’s voice and being obedient. He is always faithful to provide whatever we NEED! He cannot fail, and you are a great testimony to His faithfulness. Thank you for your bravery in stepping out, for being just who Tim and Lynn needed to go along. You’ve certainly been instrumental in the ministry as well, and I know you and Chico have a new and lasting friendship. How do I know? from Facebook, of course. God bless you “real good” in this next phase and forever!

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    Reply Sherry Gibson April 13, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Praying for you as you get ready to tackle this calling. I know you will have lots of wonderful experiences to share in this book you have been called to write and God will help you with all the details.

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    Reply Nancy Long April 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    You are going exactly what God is saying to you. I told Lynn I hoped their story would be told. Now it is. Can not wait to read what God lays on your heart.

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    Reply Martie Alagna April 14, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    It was fun getting to meet you here a while back. I didn’t know you had a blog–must’ve missed that in the shuffle–but I very much enjoyed reading some just now and am taking a peek at the other entries as well. The Lord does the most peculiar things in my life, too, and never even asks me what I think…..reading your writing, though, I see He made a great choice! MJ

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    Reply Deborah Rogers April 15, 2015 at 12:53 am

    It’s gonna be good! Thanks for sharing Christie. Love you. Deb

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