To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
This has been the reflection of my heart over the last week, and I think it’s an appropriate time to think about it for those of us who are preparing our hearts, minds, and purse strings for the next academic year right about now. Where do we get in our own way?
The kids and I are wrapping up Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold this week. From their perspective, the front of the book started out decently, the middle was slow, and now we’re at the good part. I have been fascinated with this portrayal of Benedict Arnold. I always gathered from the little I’ve seen in textbooks that he was some clod in the midst of a genius like George Washington. Then again, I could write volumes on how history was covered when I was in school. Getting back to Benedict Arnold, what strikes me is that he was actually a brilliant military strategist and a savvy businessman. Also, his earliest experiences with failure and rejection (being ridiculed as the son of the town drunk) led him to an almost obsession with being successful in the eyes of others. This obsession, unfortunately, was also the source of his destruction: he was driven toward power and money, and even at the height of his undoing, couldn’t see that he had done anything other than get an early jump on what had to be the logical ending of the Revolution (i.e., America’s losing and return to British control). His lust for fame and fortune got in the way of what could have been a brilliant US military career, as well as a very different place in history.
My blogging friend Kysha also wrote a great article for the new Heart of Wisdom e-zine regarding how our own attitudes affect our children’s approach to learning. I loved her honesty as she talked about previously dreading history, and how it impacted the children’s attitudes (“Mom, will I have a headache?” sounds so much like our four-year-old when she doesn’t want to do something). What I read in her article was the humility to admit that, like all of us from time to time, her own attitude got in her way.
We are in the midst of a huge project at church, beginning with the education of our members, young and old, in faith building. My husband and I have a responsibility to the church’s children’s ministry, and we’ve worked very hard with the Children’s Pastor to get our volunteer group excited about sharing, teaching, and creating with the kids. There are other groups involved in different areas of the project, as well as overall chairpersons. It should be, and I believe God that it will be, a fruitful campaign. But, there are places where we as a group of leaders get in our own way. Pride is such a clever demon. It keeps us from admitting where we’ve made mistakes. It makes us agree in meetings and then disagree when we try to disseminate what we supposedly agreed upon. It keeps us from walking in love when we feel we’ve been wronged. Then there’s personal agenda, another form of pride. Proverbs 16 goes on to say that pride comes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. This is what I pray against. In the last few weeks amongst the body of Christ, I’ve been frustrated, disappointed, and at times a little agitated, and I’m sure others have felt the same when they think of me. There’s been nothing to do but to breathe slowly, bite down hard on my tongue, pray to God to move before me, with me, and every now and then, in spite of me. When it comes to being with God and being obedient to His call, I don’t want to get in my own way.
I’ve one last thought. Recently I joined a couple of e-mail loops that cater to home-schooled, college-bound kids. At this time of year, everyone is sharing their children’s decisions for college choices, including test scores, acceptances, rejections, available aid, etc. It can be exciting, but also intimidating. When I went to college, the process seemed so simple. Now on the other side of the fence, I’m reading notes about interviews, SAT I’s and II’s, ACT/AP/CLEP/CC/ABCDEFG (Acronym Overload, I believe it’s called). Why be intimidated? Because of my own fears of failure and inadequacy. Again, this is a place to breathe slowly, bite down, and pray hard. I will not shortchange God and what he can do in our kids if I stay the course. I will also not shortchange myself; God is no respecter of persons—if someone else’s child can get a merit scholarship to a top-notch school, why can’t mine? So, as I’m preparing for school for next year, I’ve begun to think about how a change in me could impact our school year. How might our days change if I got me in order—spiritually, emotionally, etc.? When I think about it, we have great days almost every day. But more and more, I’m determined to be less and less in my own way. God bless.