3.11.2019

Convicted by my own lesson! And GRATEFUL!

Long ago I was challenged to insert my name into Scripture passages to make them personal and poignant. I cannot remember the who or when of the challenge, but I remember the passage, and my goodness did the person know what he was talking about!
The passage was Romans 6:1, 2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 
A convicting verse, yes?
Watch that conviction increase when I write it like this:
What shall Michelle say then? Is Michelle to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall Michelle who died to sin still live in it? 
Eek!

I think of that challenge often and have employed it in discipleship and counseling many times. It can make Scripture pop where conviction of sin is needed, but it can also provide tremendous comfort for the hurting heart that needs to be drenched with encouragement and truth.
This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50
This is Stephanie's comfort in her affliction, that Your promises give her life.

It was this very exercise that recently poured fresh conviction over me and reminded me of the value of making Scripture personal. It has been said that the Bible is a love letter from God. If this is true, then it is not only personal, it is intimate. A Father talking to His child, quietly, privately, as if He is sitting across from her, looking directly into her eyes. What a precious image!

Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie were in an intense struggle to be kind to one another. Siblings bicker and fight, of course, and siblings who are home together all.day.long (because their family room is their classroom) can fall into the "familiarity breeds contempt" pit. Often. Generally, the falls are short and recovery happens quickly, but every once in a while they loiter at the bottom, refusing to climb out. It is frustrating, annoying, and ex-hau-sting. Instead of responding to them in the Spirit, with patience and gentleness, I responded in the flesh with impatience and gruffness. I was sick of listening to their incessant whining and arguing and just wanted it to STOP. Lectures ensued, separation from one another was prescribed, privileges were lost. To no avail, however, for nothing changed.

And then, as I stood in the kitchen, staring at their six eyes, mentally preparing my 627th lecture of the morning, I told myself to pray. It was an eloquent, thoughtful prayer that went something like this, "Lord! HELP ME or I am going to LOSE my MIND!" Friends, the next moment it was as though the heavens opened and a blast of bright light broke through the roof to shine down on me with a voice that screamed, "STOP TALKING AND PUT THEM IN FRONT OF GOD'S WORD!"
And all fell silent.
What was I thinking? I'm not the Holy Spirit! I have no ability to convict anyone of anything. The only thing I can do is point my children to the Cross. To Christ. To Scripture. To the Truth.
And then - trust Him to work out the details.

I took a deep breath, pulled out three pieces of notebook paper, grabbed three pens, and asked Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie to get their Bibles and sit at the counter. No more of Michelle. Not her voice, not her discipline, not her opinions. Just truth. Written on the pages of Scripture.
Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
I Corinthians 13:4-6

They copied the passage.
I asked them to write it out again - inserting their names in place of the word "love."
And then, each of them read the passage out loud.
The conviction was palpable.
After each of them read their personal version of I Corinthians 13, we engaged in a discussion about whether the statements were true. Is Ellie patient and kind? Does Josiah not insist on his own way? Does Isaiah rejoice in the truth?
They were humbled by many responses of "no."
It was a sweet, redemptive, and beautiful exchange.

But the lesson was not over.
As I collected their papers to put into in their files, it felt like the Lord whispered, "And what about you, daughter? Where is your name?"
Deep, deep sigh.
I pulled out another sheet of 8-1/2x11, wide-ruled, three-hole-punched notebook paper and started writing.
Michelle is patient and kind;
Michelle does not envy or boast;
Michelle is not arrogant or rude.
Michelle does not insist on her own way;
Michelle is not irritable or resentful;
Michelle does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
Michelle rejoices with the truth.
I Corinthians 13:4-6

"This certainly wasn't true today, was it, Lord?
Forgive me. And thank You for never leaving me as I am, but always drawing me to Yourself and planting in me a desire to look less like me and much, much more like You. Sometimes it feels as though my image will be forever reflected in the mirror, but I will not give up trying to squish it out, for You promise that You will never leave me and that Your mercies are new every morning because You are a faithful God. And I believe You! Help me, Lord, I pray, for I cannot do this on my own!"

... if we are faithless, He remains faithful - for He cannot deny Himself. II Timothy 2:13

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