(Part 1) The Line in the Sand - Chapter 6. - I'll Show You
(Thank you Spencer! - You have shown me so many things - I love you. 12/31/02)
“I will intentionally fail my class to prove you can’t control me.” As those words whistle-whined over the line toward my heart, I was blessed with calmness. I sidestepped the incoming message and captured it in my thought queue. (2 Corinthians 10:5b) “and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;”
“I will intentionally fail…” I will choose that which is bad for me and for my future. My choice will be to fail. I will stand by my choice to the end, no matter what. I see this choice as better than another choice. Failure is unimportant. In choosing to fail, I will ultimately succeed.
“…to prove you can’t control me.” My choice will be proof, beyond a shadow of any doubt. There will be no mistaking the message of my decision. You are the problem. You are putting unacceptable pressure on me. You are the enemy, shooting at me and I will defend my foxhole at any cost. I am going to do this thing to prove my point. My point is deeply rooted in what makes me who I am. I am in control. You can’t control me. I will put myself at risk to prove that I am in control. I’ll show you!
Now here is an interesting point. If he fails, has he really failed? It cannot be easy, or fun to intentionally fail. He will know exactly what he is doing. He will still experience the pain of failure. He will still fight with the God-given desire to please God. There will be a spiritual battle waging in his heart regardless of what his words may indicate.
So, let’s go back to the point. If he fails, has he really failed? If his choice is to fail, and he fails, then hasn’t he really succeeded? I choose to fail, and I fail, so I succeed. The overall result may not be what is the best for his life; however, he has succeeded in keeping his word. He can be trusted to carry out his word. Standing exposed before my son, I understood the real message. He is becoming a man.
The line in the sand. Without fully realizing it, he has a deep understanding of the line in the sand. I can hear him say it like this, “Dad, I know I need to become the best man I can. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I still know it. I sometimes feel like I am out of control, and I don’t know what to do. I feel the pressure to succeed, and when you press into me to be successful, I desire to rebel against it, just because you say it. I realize that you have my best interest in your heart, and yet it still feels like I can’t bear the pressure. Let me fall once in a while so I can know what it feels like, but stay close for when I need you. And, dad, I will need you.”
I am weeping as I think of the pain my son will have to endure through this situation and over the course of his life. I pray he will clearly see the line and make the choices that will glorify his true Father, Yahweh. I also pray that I will be used by God to walk beside him through this situation, and as he becomes a man.
What are some consequences of choosing the “I’ll show you” option for a situation in your life? In our foxhole analogy, it looks something like throwing a hand grenade out at the enemy, just to find it plopping back in the foxhole ready to explode. “I’ll show you” comes back upon the initiator of that choice. I will attempt to get my point across to your side of the line and it will cost me something. I am willing to pay the price.
It is possible for “I’ll show you” to seem constructive and yet be just the opposite. In the case of intending to pass, in order to show me he can pass, he would seem to be making a good choice to do well. The problem with this scenario is that he is making the choice to do good so he can show me that he is able. When the action is directed toward pleasing me, or to receive my approval or acceptance, the motivation is about my approval, not about his ability to achieve success through his personal choice. He will still be attempting to “show me” that he is able to succeed.
How do we adjust or reprogram our thinking to eliminate this situation? What I can do for my son is be overflowing with approval. I can let him know that I unconditionally accept him for who he is, not for what he does. As he is successful in areas of his life, I can verbally approve through praise. Most of all, I can tell him in very many ways that I love him, and that who he is, more so than what he does, is very important to me.
This is the point where I have the opportunity to make positive deposits into his heart account. We all need those positive deposits to offset the negative deposits that will inevitably find their way into the heart account. As we look at the person, we can look at what he does, or we can look deeper and see who he is. When we look past the actions and look closer at the beauty of the creation, we can place extreme value upon any person, even those who appear to be our enemies.
What about those of us who did not receive ample positive deposits in our heart account from the significant big-people in our lives? What if the deposits were mostly negative, in the form of abuse or neglect? What do I do to overcome those deposits? How do I change what I think, feel, and believe so I can understand what I am feeling, and behave in appropriate ways. How can I base my behavior upon a solid foundation of truth, and serve others with a loving heart? How can I experience the joy I see in others, and believe that I deserve to be happy? What can I do to be worthy? How can I show you that I am ok, or good, or nice, or worthy of your attention? Oops, I’m crossing the line again.
If I start to question my worthiness, the great accuser, Satan, steps in and begins his dialog at the foot of God’s great throne. He might say, “Scott has committed the sin of pride. He has thought inappropriately about a woman other than his wife. He has raised his voice in anger again, God. He is not worth anything with all those sins. The penalty for his sins is death!”
I might then internalize those thoughts, taking on the guilt for the truth they tell, and withdrawing into the shallow grave of shame. I am bad. How can anyone care about me, especially God? I then desire to turn away from Him, knowing I have been less than what is expected through observance of His laws. My desire to hide from Him grows in proportion to the amount of my sin.
The real struggle begins right here with most of us. I am a sinner, so how can I be accepted? How could God love me? God has already answered the accuser for us. “The wages of sin is death, this is true. Since the My Son's death has already taken place on the cross, the price has already been paid.” Jesus turns directly to you, looks you in the eye and says, “Where are your accusers?”
Do we accuse ourselves? Do we listen to the accuser, and believe his droning, negative, discussion of what we are worth? I am sure we all hear those words. I am sure we all believe them from time to time, too.
The truth is this: We are all but filthy rags. There is nothing we can bring to the throne of grace that will make us worthy. There is nothing we can do or say that will elevate us to the point of being accepted. All these things are from within our self. I have come to terms with this and hope I can adequately explain this line in the sand.
To pass it off as more than it really is, makes it about something other than what it truly is. (John 3:16-17) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.”
This is the message, the good news. I have a greater gift in my hands than anything there is on this earth. He died for me. His death was loaded up with all my sins, and He died as payment for my penalty. I can hear God saying, “I’ll show you how much I love you. I willingly give my only Son because there is no way you will earn your way into the Kingdom. You can’t do it on your own, son.”
“I’ll show you.”
When I think of the times in my life I have attempted to make a point through some self-defeating choice or behavior, I am humbled at God’s mercy to rescue me from my choice. I realize that I am unworthy of that mercy, and the abundant grace that overflows from His presence in my life.
I am listening to Him say to me now, “I’ll show you…” Then He finishes His sentence, “I am kind and merciful. I desire to have you with Me in My kingdom. I love you.” The personal nature of His words resonates from within me, fulfilling His promise. (2 Corinthians 6:16) “For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’"