“Broken Vessels” Amazing Grace ~ Hillsong Worship
Cell phone violations…..behavior referrals…..meetings with distraught parents…..meetings with frustrated students…..discipline entries…..attendance contracts…..all make for a long day! As I’ve mentioned before, I truly love my job as a high school secretary, and not all days are discipline-heavy (thankfully!) – there are also really fun and wonderful parts of my job where I get to help students and families in all sorts of ways, so it all balances out to be a great fit for me. But the first time I actually typed the word “violation” I have to admit, it felt a little foreign. I usually like to see the best in people, especially kids, and I inwardly wondered if there wasn’t another word that would sound less……harsh.
But, unfortunately there are sometimes lessons to be learned the hard way in life, and if you’re a kid who can’t resist pulling out his or her phone every 30 seconds while in class, chances are, you’re going to get to come see me, because there are rules about the use of electronics during non-break school times. When those rules are broken, especially consistently, then we really have a problem….there has been a violation, and consequences are sure to follow. (Did I mention I don’t really care for the “kids getting in trouble” part of my job?) I hate to see them make choices that will negatively effect not only their grades, but their shot at graduation and eventually their opportunities as an adult. I know that’s a lot to ascribe to a simple cell phone violation, but I take them all seriously, because I care about our kids. I care about them….and they know it…..but they still have to face the consequences.
My awesome pastor/husband recently spoke about a story in the book of John that tells about a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. She was brought before Jesus (and no sign of the other party….what’s up with that?!) and shamed publicly, not so much because the religious leaders were offended by her sin, but to snare Jesus in a legal trap. I love, love, love the way Jesus could rebuke a hateful contingency with carefully placed words. He didn’t argue the law with them, he didn’t engage them in a long debate about morality; when they persisted in their demand that Jesus stone this poor woman to death, Jesus finally stood up and simply said, “Alright. But let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” Brilliant!
One by one, her accusers turned and walked away, the elders first, then finally the younger men until at last the only two that remained were the woman and Jesus. Can you just imagine how she must have felt? This wasn’t her finest hour. There had been a violation, and the law demanded a consequence, but Jesus simply looked at her and said, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord….” she replied. “Neither do I”, said Jesus…..”Go and sin no more.” <3
Grace. Some call it “unmerited” or “undeserved” favor. It’s the most precious gift of God offered to us in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s what allows us a way out of our continual “violations” in life and gives us the hope of life eternal with the One who paid the price for each of us. Notice Jesus didn’t even ask the woman if she believed in Him….he just told her he didn’t condemn her…. I would love to meet that woman some day, and ask her what she was feeling when Jesus sent her on her way, free to begin again, to choose wisely and to lift her head out of shame and into new hope!
Every day I am aware that how I treat students has the potential to either make them feel shame for the violations that brought them to my desk, or….to offer them a kind word of encouragement that they can do better. It’s not my job to shame….or to judge. When sin entered the world it brought judgement with it….we’re already condemned by virtue of the fact we are lost without Christ. But grace…..oh, the amazing grace that covers our sins and once having received it, fills us with the desire to please God, and to extend that same grace to others. It’s not hard for me to forgive simply because I know that I’ve been forgiven, and that makes all the difference!
Tomorrow I will likely receive a new slew of referrals for all sorts of rule violations, and there will be consequences for those choices. But there will be no shame….no judgement thrown at those kids. It’s a small thing to offer in my little corner of the world, but we never know what grace will do to change a life. As we reflect on the life and sacrifice of Jesus, it’s easy to see His grace extended, but not so easy to do ourselves sometimes! So….find your little corner of the world – even today – and pray for a way to show grace to someone who may not seem to deserve it. It’s a powerful proclamation of freedom in our own lives, and besides….it just feels good. =) More importantly, it’s what Jesus would do. I’m sure of it.
Happy grace-ing. <3