Vacation Bible School. That’s just for kids, right? Silly songs. Silly skits. Silly costumes. Kids stuff. Sure.
But is there any message in Scripture that God delivers just for people 12 and under? We older and ‘wiser’ ones sometimes make faith so complicated when the simple beauty of truth is what we really need.
This week, I’ll be singing songs and doing those silly skits from Group Publishing’s Weird Animals VBS at my own church.
Here on the blog, I’ll be sharing with you those same stories, the same lessons, the same truth, but for grown-ups.
Some days, you must choose grace.
Not just to give, but to receive it, take it in, soak it up past the superficial skin and let it seep down deep into your soul, into the places of self-condemnation and records of wrongs and mistakes and imperfections.
It was a day of frustrating grocery shopping with lost coupons and a store that hadn’t stocked the chicken that I needed for almost a week’s worth of family meal planning.
And having to skip out on my exercise because I had to trek to a second grocery store to find said elusive chicken so I could feed my family more than one meal in the next seven days.
Then I finally unloaded it all at home, over-budget, discouraged, and frustrated with my non-exercising self for messing up my fitness plan.
As I sorted the groceries onto shelves and into drawers, I noticed the dirt in the corners of my kitchen floor, the apple juice splatters, the toothpaste in the bathroom sink, the laundry piled in the basket.
Wow, I just can’t ever keep this house clean enough.
And that writing project I planned for the day…didn’t get done.
My children had breakdowns, so did I, and there were the devotions I put off until 9:00 that night.
At the end of the evening, after dinner and bath time, and after my kids didn’t practice the piano, I read one chapter in a book to my daughters and sent them off for “independent reading” before lights out.
It had rumbled inside me bit by bit all day, but as we finished up that little bit of reading time together, my daughter reached over and turned down the corner the page to hold our place.
And I felt the full rush of failure.
I’m a page-turner-downer from way back. Despite a lovely, inspirational, unique and large collection of bookmarks, I fall back on a long-established bad habit: I just dog-ear my page and snap the book shut.
Unfortunately, it’s a bad habit I’ve unwittingly passed along to these daughters of mine. In fact, it’s so extreme they’ve even coined a term for it, transforming the word “chapter” into a verb.
“Mom, don’t close the book until we ‘chapter it!” they say and I dutifully slip the corner of the page down.
In that moment I thought: I’m passing along my bad habits to my children, handing them down like ill-fitting jeans and worn-out shoes.
Unfortunately, some of them aren’t as immaterial as dog-eared book pages–like stressing perfection too much, having too little patience with ourselves and others, and not accepting grace in the wake of messy failure.
Oh, how I recognize some of my kids’ hand-me-down perfectionism.
Don’t we all have days where it seems we meet with more failure than success? Where Satan can barrage us with reminders of the mistakes from long ago and the crazy mishaps of today.
Where every mom on Facebook seems to have it all together, gourmet meals for their family, a spit-n-shine house, Martha Stewart-like crafting ability, time to bake, snazzy Scrapbook pages, award-winning kids, and time for family service projects….”
Or maybe you feel it at your job or in your ministry or with your friends. What you should be doing. What you failed to do. What you said that was wrong. How you fall short. How you could be better.
The pressure of perfection is far too much for our imperfect selves tripping along in an imperfect world.
That’s why there’s grace.
Jesus looked at that thief on the cross and promised eternity in paradise right there at that first profession of faith. The thief didn’t earn it, didn’t have a lifetime of ministry credentials or a life heavy-laden with fruit.
Jesus forgave Him.
Sometimes we make grace so complicated. We think He forgives us when we prove we’re worth it or when we’re mostly getting things right.
But He knows our hearts. He knows our desire to please Him, our desire to be close to Him, and He knows sometimes we’ll still get it wrong. He died for us anyway. He forgives us anyway.
As John says:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Even though you do wrong, Jesus loves You.
So we must choose to receive the grace He offers, deciding it’s okay if we didn’t get it all perfect today and if our life got a little bit messy.
Doesn’t God love us?
Didn’t we try our best to walk in that love?
That’s the point and that’s enough.
Originally published November 2, 2012
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King