Last week when I got the call from the school district’s Human Resources Director (the man who determines whether or not I work), I demonstrated clearly that I ain’t no Sherlock Holmes, as I related to you in the last posting. I completely missed spotting Clue #1, which I have missed multiple times before. In the heat of the moment, I can never seem to remember that times of pressure, difficulty or crisis are indications that God is on site and at work, busily leading me to wearing Jesus’ yoke of faith. Before I look at Clue #2, I want to let you know the results of the fateful appointment I kept later that day.
I had seen in a flash of revelation, while writing my blog in the middle of a sleepless night, that I was doing the very thing I was just exposing as sin to the reader. I was living by the law, in fear of losing my job, and not by faith in Daddy to take care of me, and I hadn’t seen it. The fear had overwhelmed me. When I realized that, embraced that fear as sin, and repented for nor trusting Daddy, I was set free!
I woke Jill up to tell her what had just happened, and we excitedly discussed again the glorious, counter-intuitive gospel (I “discussed,” she sleepily listened). God’s kingdom runs by opposites: death leads to life, serving leads to leading, being last leads to being first, losing means winning, and ruthlessly embracing my sin and repenting invariably results in righteousness!
This clearly had been a test for me, but not for God to find out about me; He already knew the condition of my faithless heart. The test was purely for me to see the unbelief hidden unrecognized there. Now that new knowledge of my sin simply gave me more to be forgiven, and thus, according to Jesus, more love in my heart to shower on others (Luke 7:47). Can we not then say, “Better to have sinned and been forgiven than never to have sinned at all” (which. of course, is not possible). Hallelujah!
The morning dragged by until my appointment. I couldn’t wait to meet with the HR director and hear the reason for our meeting, now finding myself trusting the Lord with the outcome. My fear had been based on the first time I had been in his office two years earlier, when a group of middle school students accused me of saying, “I am so mad at you if I had a gun I would shoot you.” The HR director had sternly told me that was a felony and I was in deep trouble.
My denials of even being angry or ever thinking such a thing had been to no avail, and I was suspended pending further investigation. I had to hire a lawyer and was finally restored two weeks later with a begrudging attitude and a dire warning to “watch what you say.” I had no subsequent contact with him.
When I saw him this time I actually felt genuine warmth and love for him, and shockingly, he greeted me in like manner. With a totally different attitude, he told me that this time I had been accused of patting a middle school girl on her buttocks, and what did I have to say about it?
I actually laughed and told him since placing my hand lightly on a high school football player’s shoulder some five years ago had resulted in a clenched-fist threat of a decking, I have never touched a single student, male or female. He then smiled and said that he first wanted to hear my response to the charge, but the rest of the story was that the father who made the initial accusation called a few days later with the report that he was pretty sure his daughter had lied. We had a very cordial conversation before I left.
While I was grateful to God for the positive outcome, in my heart it really didn’t matter; I knew God had me safely in His arms. Whatever the result, positive or seemingly negative, I knew would be a blessing. The victory had been won in the wee hours that morning as I clearly saw my sin that had been exposed by what, to me, was a frightening situation. That’s Clue #1: seeing my sin as a result of a time of difficulty. What is clue #2?
It is to recognize that the situation in which I find myself is God’s loving discipline, applied solely for my benefit. It is personalized, designer discipline, tailored just for me, to bring me to embrace my now-exposed sin. It is the only entrance into, and the only path for continuing the walk of, faith in Jesus’ yoke—trusting Daddy for everything.
Repentance is not a one-time act nor an occasional activity, but a daily way-of-life. Intuitively it is much easier and certainly more enjoyable to “focus on the positive” and “leave all the negativity behind.” I naturally want to stand with the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable in Luke 18, and, like him, be grateful for all the “wonderful things God has done in my life” as I have traveled on this path to becoming the “wonderful, mature Christian” I currently am. Thankfully, I am not like those “dope-smoking, drunken, abortion-promoting, homosexual marriage-loving, gun-controlling liberals who are taking over our country. Praise God that He has done such a wonderful work in my life.”
Tragically, I have lived most of my life with this unconscious, Pharisaical mind-set. Both the tax-collector and the Pharisee were equally wicked sinners in their hearts. The Pharisee was oblivious to that fact, as was I, remained in his sin and was a part of the only group of sinners for whom Jesus had harsh words at all. On the other hand, the tax-collector, vividly aware of his sin, embraced it and repented, and Jesus said he went home justified.
Real spiritual maturity begins, no matter the chronological age, when I say with Paul at the end of his life, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
So, all inheritors of the Sherlock Holmes legacy who are on the journey to walking by faith have discovered Clue #1: I face difficult, trying times in my life by design to expose my lack of faith; Clue #2: I embrace and repent of the sin the problems have exposed. Next week we will investigate Clue #3 that leads us to taking on Jesus’ easy yoke in order to effortlessly pull through life the heavy load that has now become a load of feathers!