Wandering through a big box office supply store a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how much I loved back-to-school season as a kid. In August, stores would stock shiny new organizers, notebooks and colorful pens that seemed to promise that I would be a better student this year, and that they would bring order to the chaos in my world.
I would endeavor to fill the pages of a brand new spiral notebook, promising myself that I would slow down and write neatly and thoughtfully, so there would be no mistakes. But with the passing of each day, mistakes were inevitable. I struggle with perfectionism, and so by the end of the year, I would often have torn out and recopied at least one third of the notebook. Year after year, this was my practice, even through my undergraduate studies, both here and abroad. And of all the notebooks that were bought for me, surprisingly enough, there were always enough blank pages to write on, even with my unconscious need for perfection and beauty. It was like I was given second chances to slow down and be more thoughtful and careful, time and time again.
The God of the Bible is a God of rewrites and second chances.
God pursues us, relentlessly at times. And yet, we often go through our days, completely unaware, wondering when He is going to show up. And He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Quite the contrary, for the Bible tells us that we ought to “boast all the more gladly about [our] weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on [us]” (2 Cor 12:9b, NIV). Yet, we are called to have a heart that is responsive to correction and discipline (Heb 12) in order to be made more like His Son. We are commanded by God to “be holy because I am holy” (Lev 11:44b, 1 Pet 1:16b).
The Bible also tells us that the Spirit of the living God is among us, alive inside each and every believer. Jesus assured the disciples that when He left, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). He helps us to sort through the rubble of our mistakes and our failings and softly whispers encouragement to us, continually reorienting us back to the Father.
This back to school season, I decided to do just that, to go back to school. In August, I started classes toward a graduate degree in Christian apologetics. And the notebooks that I purchased for my classes? They are book bound journals, making it nearly impossible for me to tear out a sheet cleanly to cover up my mistakes. So I rest in gratitude for God’s mercy and grace, secure in the knowledge that Jesus has made atonement for my character flaws and for all of the mistakes I have made and will make in this life. And I vow to try to do better each and every day.
PS: The academics for my chosen program of study are super-challenging so you may not hear from me as often, but feel free to stop by and leave a note of encouragement or email me a prayer request. 🙂
Photo credit: CherriesJD