“By the way,” I added as we neared the end of another tale from the life of a middle schooler, “did your math teacher ever give you those extra assignments?”
“Yeah,” she replied, “but I haven’t done them.”
She leaned over, placing her head on her arm, and looked away from me. “I have so much work to do.”
I stared at her, knowing this was a half truth. Sure, I thought. You have a lot of work today, but this is outside the norm. I knew that her fairly recent addition of a cell phone took her into online games with her friends and goofy, emoji-laden text messages. I knew that most nights homework was non-existent as she has mastered the art of “finishing it at school.” I knew that she was now an expert on tweenaged-vloggers and their silly content.
“Sweetie, when people see something in you and give you more to push you to higher levels of achievement, you should be grateful. Don’t take that for granted.”
This week has been a little tougher for me spiritually. I’ve been praying more consistently and boldly asking God to continue to reveal to me where I am weak in Him. I’m telling Him that no matter what, I want to finish this race strong in Him, and that although I know that in answering this prayer I will undoubtedly face some harsh truths, I must do just that to be aligned more purposefully in Him.
Well, the Lord never disappoints.
As I move throughout the day, areas where I am disconnected from Him are glaring like the brightest of lights. It’s been quite overwhelming for me. I’m seeing where I am judgmental and lacking compassion. I’m seeing areas of laziness and avoidance. I’m seeing how I’ve created messes in my own life where I’ve previously only assigned blame. I’m seeing undercover vanities and arrogances in the tiniest of thoughts. In short, I’m seeing sin, and it’s a hard pill to swallow. The bigger truth is realizing that God is only giving me awareness in carefully planned doses, and I’m sick to my stomach just thinking about all the areas where He’s keeping my indulgences hidden from me so that I don’t completely shut down or give up.
I can honestly say that going through life with blinders on is far easier than the revelation of misstep after misstep, but if I hope to glorify God with my living, mustn’t I be aware of the stumbles and falls, no matter how small or inconspicuous, so that my get-back-ups don’t result in making the same mistakes? God’s grace is certainly sufficient, but Christians ought to do better, too, as His grace is to compel us to desire and act more in accordance to His will. There ought to be a God-aligned change in the confessed Christian, and the perfectionist and strategist in me are aching for the magic wand fix so that I can be about His business faster.
But forging fires are hot and molding hands are uncomfortable for a reason. I have to endure because like my daughter’s math teacher, God sees something in me that I don’t yet see or fully understand or even truly appreciate at this time in my life. I have to trust Him and be obedient as a demonstration of my gratitude for His grace. And while I asked for the mirror to be held up on my life, God placed that desire for nearness to Him on my heart, and I cannot back up now because I am facing my realities more honestly, openly, and frequently than ever before. No, I must endure the furnace to be transformed in mind, body, and spirit. I’m sweating bullets, too, Friend, and having those Homer Simpson facepalm moments more often than I can count.
I’m ashamed of myself in ways I’ve never even thought about before, but I’m still praying, and God is helping me stand even as whispers of temptation try to deter me (and are still too often successful at deterring me). I’m still striving and inching along because I love Him just that much. I’m still pressing my way because I know how much He loves me.
And while I’m more conscious and shamefaced these days, I thank God because I am now more equipped to repent and connect more consistently with Christ. I can be more specific about my sins in prayer because I know exactly what they are. I can apologize more sincerely and begin to sidestep obstacles more advantageously in purpose. I am so grateful that He loves me enough to chasten me. I’m so humbled by His judgments today that I may be saved hereafter.