Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am.
Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
Relate: Read, write, pray, preach. If you were going to sum up my life’s ambitions into four words, those would be it. Periodically I look inward at what I am doing with my time and money and if there are any major things that don’t fit into these four categories, it gets cut. If you were to add a fifth thing to this list, then it would be to teach. Although I am in a season of my life where I am doing teaching probably more than anything else, I still don’t think my passion or ability to do so is as great as I would like.
It was thoughts like that last one that was running through my head when I found myself outside the principal’s office. If you are a student reading this I can tell you from experiencing both ends that sitting outside that office as a teacher can be just as nerve-wracking as it was when I was still an all too rowdy student. We were all getting our reviews and for us foreign teachers that would get followed up with the notification as to whether we would be returning for another year or not. While the person in front of me was on the other side of that door, I sat on that big red couch going over all the mistakes and failures I have made this past year. Now, I don’t think I’m a horrible teacher, but I definitely have room for improvement and it is awfully hard to be at the top of your game every day, every class for an entire school year when dealing with first and second graders who don’t even share the same primary language as you do. So there was plenty of faults flashing through my mind. If I were giving myself a review there were plenty of things I would be able to point out.
Then that dreaded moment came. The Turkish teacher who went before me came out looking relieved, but not necessarily happy. I took those eternal ten steps from the couch to the door and then stepped in. In that room sat the head of the English department, the lower and upper elementary principals, and their boss. There was only one empty chair and I could swear there was an interrogation spotlight on it. Almost as soon as I sat down one of the principals said, “BJ, BJ, BJ. Seni seviyoruz. Tamam.” (BJ. We love you. That’s it) They all laughed but then each one shared all the things they thought I was doing great at. I was half thinking they meant to be talking about whoever was next in line. They couldn’t possibly be talking about me, could they? The person they are praising and the way I see myself are certainly not the same.
React: One day I will stand my turn for an even greater judgment than I faced last week. We all will. Honestly, I can imagine that it will go pretty much the same way. I will be rehashing all the sins and failures in my life and then it will be my turn to stand before the Throne. Then I will hear, “I love you. That’s it.” The Father will continue, “When I look at you I see a man of love, of kindness, of faithfulness, of joy and goodness. You are a man of peace.”
I will wonder if God is talking about the same person. “But what about…”
“That is gone. It has been nailed to the cross and the stain of it has been washed in the blood. It has been removed from you as far as the east is from the west. When I look at You, my son is all I see.”
I will not deserve the praise and love that is given to me. I will know with a certainty that I don’t deserve the crown I have been given and so, in turn, I will lay them at Jesus’ feet.
Sometimes the image we have of God is this heavenly tax auditor looking for every little slip up that He might hit us with a divine fine. When we think of God as a Judge, it is not usually a loving and kind image. But God wants us to get to heaven. He is rooting for us and has done everything in His power, outside of taking away our free will, to reconcile us to Himself. God loves us. He loves you. He loves me. As mind-blowing as it is for me to think that my school would want me back for another year, it is a hundred billion times more so that God… wants… me. If that isn’t amazing grace, I don’t know what is.
I am blown away that You would love me. I bow in awestruck wonder that You would choose to come and die for me. I know how undeserving I am of Your grace. I guess that is why it is called grace. Help me to never take this amazing gift You have given for granted. Let me always look to You in wonder and respond to You in a way that the world might also see You through me.