Thursday, April 11, 2013

Speaking as a Spotted Leopard Myself...

         We all have our strengths and our weaknesses.
         And some of us may have more weaknesses than strengths or vice-versa.
         Since I've retired, I actually like myself better.  I still have my unpleasant and/or stressed moments but not nearly to the extent that I did as I neared the end of my teaching career.  This time two years ago, increased paperwork, more deadlines, recalcitrant teens, demanding parents, etc led to longer hours (at least for me) and more anxiety.  Often I was tense simply because I feared I couldn't handle the pressure, that I would mess up or be found inadequate.
         And so I was... at least by my own standards.  I complained a lot, whined a lot, and stressed a lot.  I was not a stellar Christian by any means during those last years... And really not even before those years if I'm honest - I always had my "bad" days and my "good" days. Simply put, although I have strengths, when the pressure was ratcheted up, my "strengths" bent over double like a sapling in a hurricane, allowing my "weaknesses" to rise to the surface.  In other words, my "strengths" weren't so strong (!) and  I found that I  could be sweetness and light one minute and pretty ugly the next.  And I'm honestly telling you that although I seem to have changed, I haven't.  Put me back in the classroom and you'd see the "old" me rise to the surface in a heartbeat - it hasn't gone anywhere, it's still there.
        I don't know if you know this or not... but there  is only One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and only One who has lived a consistently loving, sinless life. And that One is Jesus.
       You see, God doesn't keep a running total  of our "good" days and our "bad" days, tallying them up at the end  to see which outweighs  the other because He Himself doesn't live that way. Plus, that approach to sin would be sort of like playing a game, the way kids do with adults.  Mom said I had to eat most of the peas on my plate so if I have 10 and I eat 6, then I'm done and we're cool, right?   This type of approach to sin makes 40% "wrongdoing" ... um, okay.  It leads to calculating how much one can do and still be able to "earn" Heaven.
       It also makes God a divine  "bean counter" instead of  holy Majesty enthroned on high.    In reality, He is almighty God (and if we don't want to sit around counting peas on a plate, why would we think He wants to sit around counting our good and bad deeds ad nauseum?)   As One who is opposed to sin and its devastating effects,  He's not looking for partial obedience but instead  He wants our hearts to be "sin free" zones and ourselves to be "clothed" in love (ala I Corinthians 13).   And He wants this, not just when things are going well for us, but also when life is tough, circumstances are uncongenial, and the world is watching.  Because this is the way He Himself is, He can't accept less.  Forty percent or even twenty percent  darkness in our thoughts  and actions just won't do in the light of His 100% purity and His desires for us.
       So how can we ever meet His standards?
       The only way we can give what He requires - a spotless life inside and out -  is by believing on His Son, accepting His sacrifice as payment for all our sins (both past and present),  and then allowing the power of Jesus to work in us and through us, day in and day out.
       Life as a self-help, do-it-yourself project which will be graded on the curve?  Not in God's eyes.  Not unless you can find a way for a leopard to change it's spots.
       Speaking as a spotted leopard myself, I'm so glad God sent a Savior to purify us and lead us through this life and on into the next one.
      I hope you are too.

"I can't change my spots, so I'm getting a tattoo."

No comments:

Post a Comment