to a friend that i wrote today...
i know i gave you a trite and off the cuff answer when you seriously asked if there would be any "bad girls" in the chorus class at leon. (my answer was "the class will be full of sinners. some saved by grace already. some not yet. your child will fit right in.") a better answer to the question is this…
which is the good news. because there will be LOTS of opportunities for your daughter to live out the ultimate GOOD NEWS, the gospel message. to love the unlovable. to forgive those who trespass against her. to pray for those who persecute her. to say “forgive them. they don’t know what they are doing” when they hurt her. it will give her the chance to lay down her life for someone else.
i don’t think i really understood what the gospel message was, what grace was until millie rejected me. until she wanted nothing to do with me, my words, my love, my thoughts. until she mocked me to her friends. rolled her eyes at me. told me she didn’t care about my feelings. only then when i had to choose to love someone, forgive someone, serve someone who wanted NOTHING to do with me, when i had to lay aside my anger, my hurt, my pride, my right to be righteous did i understand what Jesus did, and continues to do for me.
it is in loving her at the moments when she LEAST deserved my love that i really had to cling to God. and let Him supply my need for love, for acceptance, for approval. and i don’t get it right every time. or most times. but it is in the laying aside of my right to retaliate, my right to be bitter, and angry that i have found Christ every time.
sometimes we don’t understand grace until we are asked (by God) to extend it. and maybe He asks me to extend it (and keep extending it) because it is the very thing that has driven me into His arms. and to a deeper understanding of how much He has forgiven me and lavishly loved me with an everlasting love.
i love this verse about the woman who was washing His feet… when the pharisees were whispering about her many sins...
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.
until i was forced to LOVE BIG and UNCONDITIONALLY (no matter whether millie loved me back or whether her friends loved me back) did i understand how much God loved me and how forgiveness really worked.
i have prayed over millie’s friendship with some of her friends at belmont and they are not the friends i would have chosen for her (because you KNOW THAT I ALWAYS KNOW BEST)… they are not of good repute. it seems they dabble in dark things. in things that would grieve God’s heart. and mine. but God has not removed them from her life (which i don’t know why because shouldn’t He do what makes me happy?!?!??!) but as i hear about millie sleeping on the floor next to marlee and how she is serving and loving marlee in this MS diagnosis, perhaps i see a bit clearer what He may be doing (though His thoughts are way above mine and His ways are not my own.) my prayer is that as millie serves, as millie ACTS like Jesus (even though she claims that He doesn’t exist) that she will begin to manifest Him and feel His Spirit in her. perhaps this is how God will reveal Himself to her… through her being a servant. sometimes when God requires us to do something beyond ourselves we have to face our weakness, and only then we see Him as our strength and our song.
and i am convinced that He wants me to love these friends of millie's. in all their witchiness and love of dark things. not to turn them away. not to tell them how wrong they are but to show them a more excellent way. in however He allows me to do that. i heard in a song recently that “the dark is just a canvas for His grace and mercy.” i am about to throw all kinds of love and grace up on that dark canvas… and pray that God what He does best. LIGHT IT UP…
john 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
i think about how i wanted to hate a certain friend of millie's when millie was in high school. and how i started praying for her instead (totally not in my own power but because of something i read in a book about praying for your prodigal and praying for their friends who hate you.) and now that girl and i go to lunch once a month. and she sees me as a mentor and friend. all because God had me lay down what i wanted in the moment and do it HIS way… loving and forgiving and praying for my enemies and those who persecute me. if God can do that with one of millie’s friends, then who knows what He has planned for these other girls… they may become the beth moore’s of the future!!!!! and He has given me a ringside seat to watch Him do what He does best… reveal. redeem. renew. reach for those who were not reaching for Him.
and who know how God will reveal Himself to each of us… except that He puts us in uncomfortable places where He is our only refuge. He is our only hope.
so that is a better answer to the question. there will be bad mean horrible people wherever our children (and we) go… but there is One who has OVERCOME all of that. and He did it by laying down His life. maybe our children won’t learn what that cost Him until they have to lay aside their lives as well... and maybe we won't either...