They came timid and fearful, but left confidently empowered year after year. Who were they, you ask? How did they achieve such confidence?
Year after year, a brand new crop of fifth graders would make their way from elementary school to middle school with great fear and trembling. They were big kids now – and they had no idea what lay ahead. Raised eyebrows quickly gave McDonald’s yellow arches a run for their money as they spied the entire year’s objectives posted all over my classroom walls. Young eyeballs became teleprompters that displayed their biggest question, “How will I ever learn all that stuff!”
Day by day, I earned their trust by helping them see they weren’t supposed to know any of those things until I had done my job properly. Those who didn’t pass the test showed me that either they had no desire whatsoever to cooperate, or I had not found a way to connect their way of learning with my teaching. When we were both willing to work together, we would succeed.
Minute by minute, we grew closer. By the end of the school year, I knew what made them tick, and they knew I only wanted the best for them. Sometimes, that meant being tough until expectations were met. Other times, that meant overlooking mistakes, and even bad behavior, long enough to pull up a chair beside them. I didn’t always get it right. At times, I was tough when I should have been tender; soft when I should have been firm. I messed up – a bunch of times.
The Holy Spirit never messes up! He comes to us as the master of all teachers. When we show a desire to cooperate with Him, He is elated. That’s when He gets to do His best work. Yet, our own weaknesses overwhelm us. Our eyebrows rise as we begin to see all God expects of His children. Eyes glaze over with the question, “How can I ever be good enough, know enough, or do enough to graduate from novice Christian to pro?” That’s when the Spirit pulls His chair up beside us and whispers, “You’re doing fine. You don’t have to be perfect. I’m the one doing the perfecting, and we’re taking it one day at a time. I’ve got this! Let me do my job. I’ll lead you to all the right places and teach you all you need to know. Just trust me. All I need from you is a willing heart. It’s not going to be all fun and games. Sometimes, it will be downright hard. But, the longer we walk together, the more confident you will become. It’s that confidence in my power and the peace from the Father’s grace that will woo others to us. They will want what you have. When that happens you’ll get a taste for sharing Jesus’ love with someone else. It tastes so good, you’ll crave it! That’s when I’ll know we’ve both done our jobs. I love you, so relax, and don’t be afraid.”
And with that, He pulls His chair just a little closer, wrapping His whole self gently around our hearts. Can you feel it?