It was decision time. The deadline to accept a college offer was approaching and my youngest had it narrowed down to two. We decided he needed to see them both again so they would be fresh in his mind so I signed him up for both of the schools “accepted student’s day.” The first stop was Salisbury, which required an overnight hotel stay so I reminded him to pack on the Tuesday before. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And again on Friday as he was fooling around with his brother an hour before we were supposed to be heading out the door. I went into mom lecture mode. I told him, “Don’t complain to me when you don’t have what you need down there. We aren’t going to the mall or a 24 hour Wal-Mart because you forgot something.”
So off we went. We got to the hotel safely and started to settle in for the night. I went to my overnight bag and started looking for my pajamas. I rifled around, moved things, looked a second time and you guessed it, no pajamas. Then I decided to see what else I had forgotten. I put the few articles of clothing in a pile and I didn’t find what I was looking for under there. Under where? Exactly!
I sheepishly admitted to my son that I had forgotten to pack quite a few essentials. He was a good sport about it and we enjoyed a great time of laughter.
As he so often does, God used this everyday experience to teach me a couple of lessons.
First, I need to be sure my own “stuff” is in order before I try to advise another traveler. I find myself so often thinking, “Boy, my friend sure could use the message in this devotion.” Or, “my children would learn a lot from this sermon.” All the while I am the one who needs to hear what God is trying to say. He speaks to this in Matthew 7:3 when he says,
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
The second lesson involves what I did remember to pack. I had my makeup, my mascara, my brushes and my hair-dryer. All the things I would need to look as if I “had it all together” on the outside. But God and I knew the truth. Under the polished exterior things were not so good. How often is the same true in my spiritual life? Am I more worried about looking as if I have it all together? God isn’t fooled. 1 Samuel 16:7 says,
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
So even though I wasn’t the one enrolling, I learned quite a bit on my college visit. Thanks be to our God that He is a gentle and loving professor.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the way Your Word instructs and challenges us. It is like a mirror that reflects what You need us to see about ourselves. Help me to remember that before I get into anyone else's "stuff," I need to own my own. Thank You for the grace You show me as I apply Your Word to my life and seek to grow. Amen.
Your turn: Take heart! If you struggle with this same issue ( and who doesn't?) know that the Lord will help us "push pause" before we think or act. Ask Him for patience not only with others, but also for yourself. Remember, growth is a process and it is important to simply keep moving forward!