Lent Day 4 Reflection
Who may ascend to the hill of the LORD?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
and has not sworn deceitfully.
– Psalm 24:3-4 –
Any time I walked into a classroom knowing an exam was coming my way, I entered with little confidence. Academic preparedness was one thing, confidence in my deodorant of choice was another. The sweat stains were a nice complement to the nervous knots in my stomach and my tapping toes under the desk.
Could we get this over with already?
I don’t like exams.
As a prisoner to my professor, I am open to criticism, open to every error made known, every fault brought to the surface of a pristine veneer in which I created and delighted in despite knowing good and well that I was holding the real truth within. Sure there were things I did not know and could not do–as well as things I wish I didn’t know and things I wish I never did–but that was for me alone to deal with, not for someone else to procure.
I don’t like exams.
A classroom or a doctor’s office is all the same to me. A blue book and a pencil might as well be a stethoscope and penicillin. Just going to the doctor for a regular check-up gives me an irregular heart rate because I’m making myself available to someone else’s poking and prodding, looking for whatever may be wrong in light of what is expected to be right.
What if he sees something wrong?
What if she sees me for who I really am right now?
What if it didn’t really matter?
Sometimes I do not seek the face of God because I’m afraid to be in the presence of the Almighty. I’m afraid God might not be pleased with my results as if I’m under examination. Why?
I’m not scrutinized.
I am loved.
I’m not faulted.
I am forgiven.
I should not be afraid of God’s face.
The veil has been torn, and I am invited into the presence of the LORD.
But, what about my mistakes being made known?
Your performance does not outweigh the promise of redemption that has already been made, and any personal action to the contrary is merely a vain measure in self-preservation. God’s sovereignty dictates a rightful place of judgment by which none can contend, so why would I exhaustively dispute someone else’s right standing in comparison to mine or ostentatiously seek to prove myself?
You’re important enough for God to extend mercy, but you’re not as important as you think, so get over yourself and stop looking for validation from others. I can’t kid myself to think I’m so important that I have something to hide from God, and if I don’t need to hide the truth from God, why should I attempt to live a lie among my peers? Talk about praying for the sick today… pray for my duplicity and pretentiousness.
This year, I’m giving up validation for Lent.
I was not created to please people, myself included.
I will speak truth, even in the face of disappointing someone because I want to demonstrate unconditional, tough love. I will engage my critics with patience and self-control. I will extend compassion and kindness to others. I will also step back and remember that I cannot give to others what only God can provide. And, if what God has provided to me is truly enough, then there is no need to sweat the small stuff over a fear of rejection. Even the Son of God faced rejection, and as a Christ-follower, opposition will come, but why be afraid?
When we know the cross we are no longer afraid of the truth.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer –