morris-weddingI am one of God’s kids.  And God sees fit, just like the state of NY, that I stay in school.   There is a graduation from this school…a day when all of this learning will end.  But I will be far from Avon on that day, and will be wearing the whitest robe on the block.  So here I am again,  learning.  Listening to my Teacher, taking notes, and doing my best to apply the new material to my life.  This latest lesson dug pretty deep.

So, I guess you could say that I was a Goodie Two Shoes growing up.  I had a great family…Mom and Dad loved each other, never fought,  my siblings and I never even bickered much.  I never swore,  drank, always did my homework, went to church, was never even tempted by the party scene when a teenager, though most of my church friends dabbled in it.  I wanted to please my parents.  Never dated (until Derek) and was a virgin when I got married.  Never got in any fights in school…was always the one stopping them.  I think you get the picture.  When it came to all the “outward behavioral sins”, I just didn’t do them.  And you know how you can only know your own experience…only fully understand what you went through and how you think…I didn’t understand others who were drawn to those kinds of sins.  All I knew was,  I wasn’t.  I was proud of the fact that I was a good choice maker…that I walked the straight and narrow, and did what pleased the Lord.  And I thought the Lord was proud of me too.

This mindset began to give me problems, however.  When others would fall into sin, or worse yet, if they did something that hurt me, I would struggle with thinking I was better than they were (even though I knew I shouldn’t), because “I wouldn’t do that”.  And honestly, I WOULDN’T!  So it left me confused at times, knowing that the Scriptures say that ” all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that “our hearts are desperately wicked”…we are all supposed to be on the same playing field, desperately needing God.  But I would always come back to the thought, ” But I wouldn’t do that.”  ” I love that person,” I would think, “so therefore I would never hurt them like they hurt me…why did they do that to me then?  Do they not love me like I love them?”  It made forgiveness an elusive concept.  I would say I forgive them, and wait for the hurt to go away, but it wouldn’t.  I just couldn’t seem to get over the hurt.  No matter how many times I prayed and asked the Lord to help me forgive, I kept hurting.

Until God brought me into His classroom.

One day, I was crying my eyes out, extremely frustrated about some of this pain that wouldn’t leave after being wronged.  And like a light bulb, He gently revealed to me this stronghold in my mind, and began to peel back layer after layer…I had thought, that if I did everything right, that life should just work, and that I wouldn’t be treated poorly or be severely wronged.  He began to show me that that way of thinking did not glorify Him and His work in my heart, but glorified me and my amazing choices.  Like I was responsible for all the good in my life.  Then the Scripture rang in my head..” Every good gift, and every perfect gift comes from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights” (James 1:17)  All the good in my life was from Him.  For whatever reason, HE kept me from a life of sin.  HE blessed me with the ability to obey.  HE was responsible for every good thing I could think of, and therefore, He gets the glory.  I had unknowingly been committing the sin of the Pharisees…self-righteousness.  And it was all because I hadn’t fully understood my depravity without Christ.  The story of Simon and the prostitute in Luke 7 always bothered me… “He who has been forgiven much loves much, but he who has been forgiven little, loves little, ” said Jesus to the good guy.  Now I see that that  Scripture means that those who are saved out of a life of sin find it easy to love Him and are so thankful for His mercy toward them.  But the Goodie Two Shoes may have a harder time loving the Lord, because they think THEY have something to do with their goodness.  Now that I see that I have had NOTHING to do with my goodness, but it all has come down from HIM, forgiveness flows.  I am finally free from that pain.  I am not afraid of someone hurting me anymore.  Do your worst, world!  My God has redeemed my sick heart.  I will no longer be like the dude in that parable in Matthew 28 that had been forgiven a huge debt  and was choking the other dude for a buck .

I am so thankful for my Teacher, and for this lesson, though painful and humiliating.  There is much freedom for me, and true worship for Him, when I embrace the fact that goodness is a fruit of His Spirit ( Galatians 5:22,23), not mine.

(School bell rings)

Time for my next class.