My daughter has been attending Bible Study Fellowship with me this year. By her choice, not by my insistence. And while she acknowledges that it's not always a lot of fun, and many Tuesday nights, she's tired and doesn't feel like going, she frequently comes home with insights that she's excited about. (And the fact that my daughter gets excited about having spiritual insights gets me excited.)
The other night, she came to a realization that I thought was especially important. A truth that I've tried to communicate to her before, and that I've tried to communicate in this blog before, but it suddenly rang true in her heart. Let me see if I can explain it how she did:
“You know, Mom, I realized tonight that I spend all my time and energy trying to make myself a better person. I try to work harder at school and everything. I try to be nicer to everybody. I try to be responsible and mature. I try to do everything right. And that's probably all fine . . .
“. . . except that's not what Christianity is about. God isn't concerned with me trying to be a better person. God knows that I'm not going to improve myself enough to mean anything or matter. I mean, if I could make myself a good person, there would have been no reason for Jesus to die on the cross for me. He wouldn't have had to make that sacrifice. He could've just given me a list of rules and told me to keep trying harder.
“This isn't supposed to be about me trying to be a better person all the time. This is supposed to be about me knowing God and loving God. If I took all that energy I'm putting into improving myself and put it into really getting to know God, so I love Him more and more . . . well, that's all I'm supposed to do.
“Then God takes care of the rest. If He has something in me He wants changed, He'll take care of that. And if I finally really know Him and love Him, I'll be completely surrendered to Him so He CAN change that thing in me. He's the only one who can do it anyway – I was never able to make myself a better person on my own. And He never expected me to! The plan was ALWAYS that He would do it Himself if I just handed my life over to Him to do it.”
Okay, I'll admit: she summarized all that in about three sentences. I elaborated. Because that's what I do.
But I remember the moment this all became clear to me -- and I was excited for her excitement, for what this could mean to her if she really gets that. It took me years to get it, and I still struggle with believing it enough to live it. If she learned nothing else in twenty-some weeks of BSF this year, this moment of spiritual enlightenment was well worth the time and effort. Hang on tight to that truth, honey. And make it true in your life.