True Detective

6137-000082I’ve always loved detective dramas – but not just for the tweed.

You start with lots of questions. (Why is the heiress so secretive? Who took the candlesticks? What caused the fire in the library?)

Frankly, it’s a bit of mess. So, you call in an expert.  Poirot, Marple or Morse. Then, you watch them work out the answers.

Conflicts are resolved, wounds are healed and patterns emerge from chaos. A confession and a solution – all in 60 minutes.


That’s the beauty of TV, isn’t it? The bad stuff always gets fixed.


Sometimes, I think that being a Christian should look the same.

You start with lots of questions. (Why is there suffering?  What happens when we die? Does God really exist? What are we here for?)

Frankly, you’re a bit of a mess.  So, you call in an expert. A heavenly Maigret. Then, He gives you the answers.

Your conflicts are resolved, your wounds are healed and everything suddenly makes sense.  A confession and a solution – all in 60 minutes.

Except it isn’t. And you’re still not fixed.


And that’s when a little voice says:

Maybe He’s not there.

Maybe He is, but He doesn’t care.

Maybe my problems are too big.

Maybe my problems are too small.

Maybe I’m not really a Christian.



When I think like this I’m forgetting two things: truth, and grace.

First, truth:

In real life, happy endings aren’t guaranteed. After the conviction, there’s the paperwork. And behind the headlines, there’s a mountain of small print.

In real life, the camera doesn’t pan away with the sunset.

And in real life, as one story ends, a new one begins. The villain gets out of the police van and goes into the station. The grieving family leave the graveside and go back to work. The detective has a stroke and is quietly retired. The heiress marries the gardener – but he elopes with her butler.

In real life, Christians live between the cross and the resurrection.  There’s a happy ending: but the darkness comes first.

In real life, Jesus doesn’t zap us from on high.  He joins us in our mess and He works through it.

In real life, I’m not one of the good guys and the law is not on my side.

In real life, justice would finish me off.

BUT the story I’m in is about grace not law.

It’s about the True Detective finding me guilty and then redeeming the whole sorry mess.

That’s what makes it complicated, infuriating, and unpredictable. It’s real – and it’s life.

7 thoughts on “True Detective

  1. Timing Emma is everything, as in the detective stories. Just been in a strange phase where ai suddenly felt if only I could try to mend all those broken relationships it would help sort the guilt and all would be well. But of course the reality is that broken things cannot always be mended. And on the other hand there is also this danger that we bask in the knowledge that God has forgiven us and expect that to miraculously transform the mess of our lives. And this can seem false and hurtful to those around who haven’t found God and who we have hurt.
    And yet He longs to work with and in us in this suffering world. His love can heal, change and resource us so that perhaps we can love more and hurt less, a better trajectory for sure. He is our hope.

  2. I’ve got a question. Not sure where it fits or where to take it but here seemed like as good a place as any, so here goes:

    My salvation is not dependent on my recovery (so I am told, and this makes sense – salvation by faith in Christ alone). But if there is some area of my life over which I refuse to accept his lordship, am I really saved? I’ve tried to surrender my ED (and associated stuff) to him over and over again, but he doesn’t take it. Now I feel he wants me to do so again (having reclaimed it as my own) and this time I don’t want to.

    I know James 1, we are not saved by good works, but faith without works is dead. So is my difficulty in surrendering this a sign that I haven’t really given myself fully to him and accepted his rule in my life? Am I really a Christian!?

    I’m sure nobody can answer this for anyone else. But academically, how would you respond?

  3. Hi PWP,

    If our salvation was dependent on “surrendering all”, none of us could be saved. And it’s not as though we “make Jesus our Lord” by “giving over” parts of our lives to Him. Jesus IS Lord. If we have recognised that then that is faith. But not even that is something that we contribute to God. We don’t contribute faith or our surrendered wills (which are never enough). The only thing we contribute is our sins (which are always plenty).

    If we want to know “Am I a Christian?” I don’t think we get very far by looking at ourselves. All we are likely to find is sin and imperfection. The way to find faith is to acknowledge our total stuck-ness and then look upwards to Jesus who has done it all. In fact, if I ever looked within and found something to recommend me to God I’d be in a pickle because suddenly I might trust myself rather than Jesus.

    If we doubt that we truly have saving faith, Romans 10:17 tells us what to do: “Faith comes by hearing.” We need to put ourselves in the path of gospel preaching – the kind that exposes our sin, but more importantly, that shows us that Christ is given for sinners. Only for sinners actually. Once we see our sin in this gospel light we see that we are qualified because the one thing we need in order to be saved is to be a sinner:

    “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

  4. I agree with all you’ve said, but it doesn’t completely answer my question… Maybe I didn’t phrase it clearly – or maybe you have answered it and I just don’t understand. What I’m really asking is whether one can be a Christian whilst refusing to submit some aspect of one’s life to the lordship of Christ? I don’t mean just that it’s always a work-in-progress and that we are never asfully surrendered as we imagine… I mean that there is some part of me or some area over which I exert my control and ownership in defiance of letting him near it. Surely that’s a sign I haven’t really got saving faith? That somehow I think my way is better than his or that I don’t fully trust him – and if I don’t trust him with my weight, how can I think I trust him for my salvation!?

  5. Hi PWP,

    “I believe, help my unbelief” is as good as saving faith ever gets. Our hope is always in Jesus, not in us giving over different areas – otherwise we’re only as good as our repentance, which means that we earn our salvation. Because we’re saved, we will keep bringing these areas under His Lordship, but we’re not saved because we do – and every day we pray for daily bread because every day we stumble.

    The gospel is for sinners. Are you a sinner? And do you want Jesus? If the answer is yes, then He’s yours.

    I still think the gospel is for *sinners*! :-)


  6. PWP,
    I think the fact you are conscious there is something you have not ‘given over’ to God, and the fact you are concerned about that, shows you are spiritually alive and that you belong to Jesus. Sometimes submitting an area of our life just feels too much; impossible. Maybe take a step back and don’t worry about submitting it right now – rather begin by telling God about how it feels too hard, tell him why you don’t want to give it over to him, and ask him to help you with each step of the journey towards trusting him with it.
    Sometimes I find trusting God for my salvation easier because I know that is completely out of my control – I can do nothing to save my own soul so will gladly let God do that bit. Trusting him with my day to day life is something I find much harder, and we’re told it will be a battle (Ephesians 6). But with God all things are possible. xxx

  7. Hi Lucy,

    Hopefully you ticked the ‘notify me’ box and will see this…

    Thanks so much for your words. Very timely. I probably wouldn’t have felt able to respond well to this even a week ago, but now I can see that you’re right and am more willing to take that first step (again!) of talking to God about the difficulty of surrendering this rather than pushing him out of the picture.

    It’s a conversation I’m quite afraid of having because I don’t know how to snap out of the sadness afterwards, but I’m no longer in the place where I refuse to try because I can’t or won’t let him close. I guess that’s a baby step… At least for today, I feel a bit more soft-hearted in this respect.

    Thanks again for your insights, encouragements and challenges.

    B x

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