Wednesday, July 18, 2012
I feel punished. Punished for what I've done and have failed to do. Punished for what I'm doing and fail to do. Punished for what I have yet to do and will fail to do. Woe is me.
Naughty as I am, that which has come my way has been richly deserved. I measure His plans for me by the amount of time I feel shamed. And there's something reassuring about the pain, even as it courses through me like some incurable disease. The more I am broken, the more He will work to put me together again. But it just doesn't feel like that. No. It feels like I am punished, and I always will be.
I know how my daughters, and the students I serve, feel when I punish them. Using the word makes me feel uncomfortable, but let's be honest, parents punish their children, and educators punish students. We punish one another. You can use whatever words make you feel more comfortable, but when it comes down to it, it's still punishment. Sorry, I don't know where I was headed there. Anyway, they may not believe I know how they feel, but I do. Sure as all get out I do. As certain as I am about understanding those feelings, I also know something else: When we are truly listened to, and when we truly listen, then we are learning. Punishment, then, isn't the beginning or the ending of the story.
Love, however, is.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
We give ourselves too much credit. I suppose it's because we don't fully comprehend how active God is in our lives, and I assume it's because we want control over things that we do not and cannot. My recent experience, even though I know now I'll die another day, gave me an opportunity to wonder.
That voice that told me what to do, that voice that tells us what to do - you know, that "gut feeling" we get? So often we think it's our common sense drowning out our stupidity. I guess, in a way, it is. However, I know it's more than that. In a very real way, it's God speaking to us, and in very real ways, we need to learn from this. My humanity often gets in the way of me doing the right thing, but there's a reason I sometimes elect to do the right thing. It's not because I suddenly got smarter, or because I happened to no longer wish to take the easy way out. No, that's giving ourselves too much credit. Our inflated egos go a long way toward continuing to inflate our egos. A little humility might help us recognize we're just a bit smaller in the big picture.
Can we learn from our mistakes? Most definitely we can. But, let's just remember that since they are our mistakes, then it's not from ourselves that we are learning. We are, in fact, listening and responding. Because God, in fact, is speaking and acting.
Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, "What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the Lord on the third day from now?"
Isaiah answered, "This is the Lord's sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?"
"It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps," said Hezekiah. "Rather, have it go back ten steps."
Then the prophet Isaiah called upon the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.
~ 2 Kings 20:8-11