Once a month I will be using my newsletter article for a post. This is one of those times. I hope it will be a source of encouragement and grace for you.
The other day I was reminded of those wonderful days of summer when as a child I would run and play without a care in the world. Summer was always a delightful time for me as it is for most children. I guess as we were preparing for VBS to begin, the memories were refreshed within me.
I only remember two summers that were not good times. The first was between my fourth and fifth grade years. I was depressed because my favorite teacher, Miss Long was leaving. She was getting married and moving away from our community. My Dad was very understanding and tried to comfort me. Miss Long was a pretty lady and had a sweet spirit about her. My Dad said he could understand why I was going to miss her.
Miss Long was loved by all her students. She was one of those gifted teachers who had answered a call to teach rather than simply taken a job. She loved her students and took time to provide important instructions that went beyond what we learned from our text books. Even today, I am still learning from some of the lessons Miss Long taught me.
One of the issues we faced as students was remembering to put our names on our tests. To remedy this problem, Miss Long told us that the next time we were tested, if we failed to put our name on our paper, we would fail the test. A pretty little girl named Myra sat behind me. As we passed our papers to the front, I noticed that she had forgotten to write her name on her paper. I turned around and pointed out her error. As I turned back to the front there was Miss Long. She looked very angry and told me that I was cheating by telling Myra to write her name on her paper. I can still remember the horror I felt as I heard her words. There were many things I might consider doing that were wrong, but cheating was the very last thing in my heart. Cheating meant that I could not be trusted. My Dad had always told us that if you protected anything always keep your word. It was the most precious thing you had. Now my “word” was being questioned. What would Miss Long think? Worse yet, what would my Dad do?
Miss Long must have seen the horror and innocence on my face because her tone quickly softened and she began to explain. Everyone was responsible for putting their name on their paper first, before they did anything else. If I helped Myra avoid the failure, the she would not learn from her mistake. Miss Long taught me that there were some things each of us must take responsibility for. There are some lessons that are only learned if we are made to face the consequences of our actions.
Today, I do not know where Miss Long is, but her lessons are still teaching me important truths. As I remembered this story, I could not help but recall the feelings I had as a fourth grade child. My dread was so great I must have physically drawn back from Miss Long. She could see how her words changed my expression. The feelings I had that day can truly be described as horror. I had let Miss Long down, but worse, I had disappointed my Dad. Recalling those feelings brought a question to my mind: in all these years that have passed, have I lost the horror I felt that day when confronted with my sin? When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin do I draw back in horror and dread? Sadly enough, I do not always feel the dread of my sin. I have “grown up” since those days and put away childish things.
Certainly the Scriptures do not condone laying guilt trips on people about their sins. Yet the Bible takes our sins very seriously and demands that we do too. Sin is so serious that Jesus died for our sins. Sadly, as we mature and get older, we get used to our sinful condition. We almost take for granted that we are going to sin, so we are careful not to get too excited or disturbed about it. We take God’s grace for granted.
The Bible tells us that God wants His people to have a contrite heart. When we sin, we are to face our sins, confess them (own them), repent, and seek God’s forgiveness. It is my prayer that I will once again have that sense of horror when it comes to my sins. God help me to draw back from sin into repentance. I pray that you too will have a holy horror whenever you sin. We need to resist temptation and repent whenever we fail. God desires that we learn from our failures and take repsonsibility for the things we do. He wants us to learn the difficult lessons that only conviction and repentance can teach us. It is only when we see sin as a personal affront to Jesus that we will truly understand the horror of it all!
God loves you and Jesus has paid for your sins with His death and resurrection. Let us live our lives seeking to honor God with our obedience and resistence to temptation.