Our memory verse in my 2nd grade classroom this week so happens to be Philippians 2:14 –
I learned this from a wise woman once: When reading a verse, reread it to yourself over and over again, each time emphasizing a different word. Like this:
Do EVERYTHING without complaining or arguing.
Do everything WITHOUT complaining or arguing.
Do everything without COMPLAINING or arguing.
Do everything without complaining OR arguing.
The LORD is my shepherd.
The Lord IS my shepherd.
The Lord is MY shepherd.
The Lord is my SHEPHERD.
Savoring each word like dark chocolate.
After I read with the children about how the Israelites grumbled in the wilderness and how God continued to provide for them and remained faithful to them, despite the fact that they were SO UNDESERVING, I couldn’t help but reflect on God’s faithfulness to me lately, despite the fact that I have been a bit blue and thankless these last two weeks, focusing instead on my sacrifices, my desires, my SELF. Blasted self.
The novelty of moving to a new city has faded, and now my heart’s sin reveals itself in the humdrum of everyday life. How prone I am at times to give in to discouragement, or to an outwardly quiet but inwardly screaming attitude of entitlement for my sacrifices to never go unrecognized or under-appreciated. So ugly.
As I struggle at times to want to be regularly appreciated (whatever that looks like) for my sacrifices, the Lord in His great wisdom is teaching me to reflect on the nature of HIS SACRIFICE for me. I think of Jesus willingly and lovingly sacrificing Himself for people who He knew would reject his sacrifice or under-appreciate it. And that He sacrificed out of great LOVE and an unshakable COMMITMENT to do the will of His Father.
I do have moments/seasons of sacrifice that looks like this. Then the reality that I’m human and not God hits me between the eyes in those other moments when I get tired of my sacrifices or quietly resentful about making them.
He is so different from me. So constant. Altogether good. Full of unfailing love.
That gap between His nature and my nature seems to grow wider and wider, the more experiences I have to learn just how sinful I am and how holy He is.
Back to my classroom
After reciting our Bible verse, I asked this simple discussion question yesterday to my students: “What are some things you have complained about?”.
As I listened to some of these 7 and 8 year olds lay bare their sins, I sat there convicted.
Quietly turning the question onto myself, the Lord gently and clearly brought to my mind complaints my heart was harboring. Ohhh, Lord, forgive me!
It seems He is constantly having to save me from my own pride, self-righteousness, laziness, or envy.
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep me from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me.
…May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”