Efraimstochter / Pixabay

Sometimes, it takes a conversation with a six-year-old to give you a wakeup call.

Easter Sunday morning, Timmy was cuddling on my lap. “Timmy, today is Easter!” one of his siblings said.

Figuring I should do my duty and make sure he knew what Easter was all about, I asked, “Timmy, do you know what we celebrate on Easter?”

“Finding Easter eggs!” Timmy said immediately. “And Jesus coming out of the grave.”

Here are the thoughts that went through my head: Oops. Maybe I should have spent more time teaching him about Easter. Wait, no, he knows what Easter is about. He’s just excited about the Easter egg hunt we’ll be having this afternoon. Can’t blame him for that; he’s only six. When he’s an adult, he’ll place more priority on Jesus than on plastic eggs.

Or will he?

If Timmy’s like me, he’ll have to remind himself to focus more on Jesus than on the trappings of whatever season we’re talking about. I know Jesus is way more important than—well, than anything else, really, yet I still find myself putting far more time and energy into buying and stuffing Easter eggs than I do in preparing myself spiritually. I spend more time making sure my kids have suitable Easter outfits to wear to church than I do reading Scripture and praying in preparation for Easter morning, and I suspect I’m not the only one. Maybe you do, too.

True, we’ve heard the Easter story many, many times. Maybe our familiarity with it is the reason we don’t bother spending any time on it. We know that stuff already. Besides, the pastor’s going to preach on it from the pulpit. We don’t need to bother with it on our own.

Or do we?

Oh, yes, we do. If we realized the depth of our need for constant filling by the Holy Spirit and how far we are from being as spiritually mature as we’d like to think, we’d never arrive on Easter Sunday morning with 200 Easter eggs and the realization that we hadn’t spent time with God in who knows how long. We wouldn’t sit down to a delicious dinner that we’d spent more time on than on our spiritual condition.

There’s nothing wrong with Easter eggs or nice dinners. My family and I enjoy both of those things. But before we criticize our children for being more excited about Easter eggs than about Jesus, maybe we should examine our own hearts and see if we don’t do the very same thing.

Our actions will show what we truly believe is most important.

Luke 24:6—“He is not here, for He has been raised.” (MGT)

I Wouldn’t Do That

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The other day, 10-year-old Jessica spent the afternoon at a friend’s house. When she returned home, she brought with her a plastic Ziploc baggie of some of the cookies they had made. She placed the bag on the kitchen counter, and we managed to enjoy some cookies without eating them all the first night.

That’s why they were still there the next morning, when Timmy came to the kitchen to eat breakfast. Of course, he immediately spotted the bag of cookies on the counter. “Cookies!” he exclaimed happily, grabbing the bag.

“Timmy, you can’t have cookies for breakfast,” I said.

Timmy unzipped the bag. “Oh, I’m not, no,” he said innocently, reaching a hand inside. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Then why is your hand in the bag?” I asked.

“I’m not having a cookie for breakfast,” Timmy said in what he probably hoped was a reasonable tone, as he withdrew a cookie. “I’m just having it for a snack.”

With that, he popped the cookie into his mouth and took a big bite.

We started justifying our actions to make wrong seem right in the Garden of Eden, and we still do it today.

Well, it’s not really gossip, per se. I’m just sharing information the other person should know.

I’m not doing anything everybody else doesn’t do, and most people do worse!

We’re masters at dressing up our sin to make it look like righteousness so that we don’t feel guilty. Sometimes, we dress it up so well that to others, it may even look like nobility.

God knows better. He who searches our minds and hearts isn’t impressed by the mental gymnastics we go through (whether consciously or unconsciously) to avoid the pain of knowing we’ve blown it. He knows what’s really going on within us, even when we don’t. He also knows that we have a hard time facing and owning up to what we’ve done.

That’s why, in an incredible demonstration of His perfect love and tender compassion, He removed our need to feel any shame. He didn’t make us stop sinning, but He did send Jesus to die on the cross, and while Jesus hung there, God punished Him for everything we would ever do. Just in case we didn’t understand the enormity of this, He also declared through Scripture that for those of us who are in Christ Jesus (in other words, those of us who have a relationship with him), there is no condemnation. He showed it to us, then He wrote it to us.

We are never condemned, no matter what we have done.

Next time you and I sin—and, sadly, there will be a next time—instead of hiding or justifying anything, let’s run straight to God’s loving arms. Let’s confess our sin and receive the healing and restoration He offers us. And then, let’s praise Him for His magnificent love and forgiveness—both here on earth, and someday, throughout all eternity.

Romans 8:1—Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (MGV)

Little Things

Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

As a mom, you’ve probably spent a significant portion of your life cheering your children on. Maybe you knelt on the floor, arms outstretched, as your child took her first steps toward you, urging her to “Come to Mommy, sweetheart!” Or you might have braved cold and rain as you sat huddled on cold metal bleachers to watch him play football. If you’re like me, you might have had to refrain from doing a full-on happy dance as you said, “Yay! You peed in the big potty!”

We cheer our children on when they do things that are big for them, even if those things aren’t big in comparison to what others can do, or if they seem tiny in the grand scheme of things. That’s because when it comes to our children, we know that little things are really big things.

Why don’t we offer ourselves as much grace as we offer our children?

Our preschooler brings us a drawing of somebody who consists of a round head; huge, sort-of round eyes and a wobbly smile; long, stick-legs sticking directly out of the head; arms sticking out of the legs; and some number of fingers on each hand (never 5), and we say, “Good job!”

Our third-grader proudly shows us a paper she wrote at school. In only one paragraph, three words are spelled wrong, and one sentence is missing a capital letter at the beginning. We see her beaming smile, and we say, “I’m proud of you!”

But somewhere between drawing legs sticking out of a head and becoming responsible for earning the money to pay the electric bill, we decide that doing little things well is no longer good enough. If we want to celebrate, we have to do big, important things. Flashy things.

Sounds good, except that Scripture tells us we’re wrong.

Jesus told the story of a master who was going on a long journey. He left his servants in charge of varying degrees of his resources. When he returned, he was equally pleased with the servants who had done everything they could with what he had given them, no matter how much they started out with.

Because the master in the parable represents Jesus Himself, we know that Jesus was telling us that His pleasure in our actions has nothing to do with the grandeur of our results. It has everything to do with doing our best. To Him, that’s not a little thing; it’s a big thing.

And if it’s big to Him, it should be big to us, as well.

Matthew 25:23—“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.’” (NIV)

8 Seconds

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Yesterday afternoon, Phil, the kids, and I attended the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. This year, we got to see the rodeo as well as tour the grounds, look at the animals, ride the rides, etc. My favorite event of this rodeo session was the bull riding.

The rider sits astride the bull’s back while the bull is still in the chute. He makes sure he has the rope wrapped just so around his hand. Then, he gives a single nod, and another cowboy pulls the gate open.

Out of that chute comes a wildly bucking bull. He wants that cowboy off his back, and he kicks, jumps, and twists as he attempts to fling the rider into the dust of the arena. Meanwhile, the cowboy rides with one hand gripping the rope for dear life, his other arm raised into the air, desperately trying to remain centered and upright (not to mention on the bull) until the buzzer sounds 8 seconds later.

Eight seconds doesn’t sound like a long time, but it must seem like an eternity when you’re on the back of a bull who’s trying to throw you off.

Life is a lot like bull riding in some ways. You think you’re ready for it, but suddenly, it begins rearing and twisting like crazy. You’re desperate to stay on, but you don’t know how much longer you can. It feels like life is trying to toss you off its back into the dust.

When they’re bull riding, cowboys only think about that very instant. Their minds and bodies must be focused on the here and now, or they’re going down. But in life, when we’re being tossed about like crazy, we have to focus on what happens after the buzzer, not before.

When the buzzer sounds in bull riding, the bullfighters (also known as “rodeo clowns”) rush toward you so you can dismount. Then they distract the bull so you can get away. You head to the rails and climb up. You’re safe. It’s over.

In life, as you dismount from your circumstances (whether in this life or in heaven), God Himself rushes in. Instead of heading to the rails, you head for His embrace. You’re safe. It’s over.

May we never forget that no matter what we’re going through, the buzzer will sound, the ride will end, and we’ll be safe. The pain will be over. We will have won.

Even when it seems like it will, your pain won’t last forever. The end is coming.

Hold out for the buzzer, my friend. Hold on just a little longer.

2 Corinthians 4:17—So our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (NIV)


Maialisa / Pixabay

It was 7:55 a.m. My students had begun to arrive in the classroom and hang up their jackets and backpacks. I sat at my desk, completing some last-minute paperwork before the start of the school day.

“Señora Breedlove?” a voice asked.

I looked up to see a student standing next to my desk, holding something hidden in his hands. “Yes, Michael?” I asked. (Note: Michael is not his real name.)

“I brought you something,” he said, unclasping his hands to reveal a folded-up dollar bill. I stood up to receive it. “I know you don’t get paid very much,” Michael said quietly, “so here.”

Wordlessly, I held out my hand, and he placed the dollar in it. “It’s not much,” he said, “but it’s something.”

Rarely am I at a loss for words. This was one of those times.

I teach at an inner-city school. My students aren’t rich. But Michael, probably because he’s heard adults in his life talk about how “teachers don’t get paid much,” wanted to do something about that. So he gave me what he had.

What do you think I said to him? Did I say, “Michael, this is only a dollar. This isn’t worth anything to me”?

Of course not. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. I don’t remember exactly what I said; I only remember that my words seemed inadequate. Michael may have thought “it’s not much,” but he was wrong.

It was priceless.

That’s what I want you to remember when you feel discouraged because what you have to offer God “isn’t much.” Your gift—no matter the monetary value or the way society perceives it—is worth far more than you may think it is.

It’s priceless, too.

A missionary who devotes her life to serving the people of a foreign land gives no more to God than does a stay-at-home mom who spends her days fixing meals toddlers will eat, driving the carpool, and folding laundry.

God places no more value on the service of a speaker who brings the Word of God to thousands of people than He does on the labor of a mom who works to earn a paycheck so that her children will have what they need.

That’s because what God wants from us has little to do with the particulars of our gift, but everything to do with the heart behind it. With whether we’re doing the best we can and giving Him everything we have.

At the end of the year, many students give their teacher gifts. It’s possible, therefore, that I may receive gifts that cost more than $1.

But I will never receive one that’s worth more.

Mark 12:44—“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (NIV)


groceries with receipt
stevepb / Pixabay

A week or two ago, I went to the Walmart Neighborhood Market in our, well, neighborhood. I intended to buy only a gallon of milk and a pack of candy for Timmy. It was a trip that should have cost me about $3.50.

Want to know what I wound up buying?

  • Brown sugar
  • Frozen chicken nuggets
  • 2 tubes of kid toothpaste
  • A squishy toy for Lindsey
  • 2 gallons of Blue Bell ice cream (chocolate chip cookie dough and vanilla)
  • 3 gallons of milk
  • 3 boxes of cereal
  • 1 box of ice cream cones (to go with the Blue Bell)
  • 1 package of gum
  • A giant box of Eggo waffles
  • A giant bag of candy
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 2 packs of rawhide dog bones
  • 6 bags of dog treats
  • 1 bag of jelly beans
  • 1 dog toy

That’s because once I got to the store, I kept thinking of things I needed or wanted, and before I knew it, I had spent $87. Not $3.50, but $87.

Of course, if I had been going to Target instead of Walmart, I would have gone in there for $3.50 worth of merchandise and come out having spent $287, instead of $87. But that’s beside the point. The point is that once I got started, I spent more than I had intended to.

In this case, it wasn’t a problem. We had the money, and we would make good use of all the things I bought. Giving in to temptation turned out okay this time.

That’s not always the case.

We think we can control temptation’s grip on us. We think we can safely go just so far and no farther, but we wind up dishonoring our Lord because we trusted in our ability to make the right decision in the heat of temptation—despite repeated failures on our part, which should have been sufficient to prove to us that relying on our own willpower is not a good idea.

If we were smart—and if we truly understood our weaknesses—we’d never walk willingly into a tempting situation we could avoid. If there was no way to avoid it, we’d never walk in without taking precautions to keep ourselves from sinning. We’d consider in advance what temptations we might be about to face, and we’d do whatever it took to strengthen ourselves for the moment when temptation came upon us.

We’d pray on a regular basis. We’d read Scripture, fellowship with other believers, and attend church. We’d do all this, and more, in advance, so that when the battle came, we’d be victorious.

If you need to be more proactive about resisting temptation—and which of us doesn’t? —I encourage you to read Ephesians 6:10-18, one verse of which is quoted below. This passage tells us what God says we should do if we want to withstand temptation instead of fall to it. It’s the “Armor of God” passage, and it tells us how to gird ourselves for the battle.

It also points out that we need to gird ourselves before the battle comes, not after. Because by then, it may be too late.

Ephesians 6:18—Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  (NIV)

The More Things Change…

geralt / Pixabay

You’ve heard the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same”?

Allow me to catch you up on what God’s been doing in my life for the last six-plus months. When I do, and when I share one of the many lessons He’s taught me through all of it, you’ll see why I titled this devotion what I did.

On June 20 of last year, I accepted a position as the third-grade Spanish Immersion teacher at a nearby school in my local school district. I had taught before, but never for a public school, and never with an elementary-level focus. But my husband and I believed that getting a job at all, and accepting this job in particular, was God’s plan for me and for our family.

For the rest of the summer, I prepared to teach. I continued my online coursework toward my teaching certificate; I consulted friends who are teachers for tips on classroom management; I bought things for my classroom; I attended approximately 80 hours of training; I prayed and thought and planned some more.

It turned out that school was not at all what I had thought it would be. For the first two weeks, I cried every time I thought about having to go to work. God and I had some honest, raw conversations during this time and in the following weeks.

Then, in the middle of October, my beloved stepmother, who had turned just 61 years old a few days before, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. I was devastated. Since then, I’ve experienced not only grief that flares up when I’m least prepared for it, but family issues related to my dad’s health and finances.

At first, it seemed that my life had changed a lot in the past six-plus months. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what truly constitutes my life hadn’t changed at all.

According to the words that came from the very mouth of Jesus, true life now, and always has, consisted of knowing God. In another place, Jesus made it clear that the only things God wants from me are to know and love Him, and to pour out His love on anyone He puts in my path as my neighbor. This is true life, Jesus said, and that hasn’t changed in the past six months. Nor will it ever.

No matter where I work, my purpose for working there will be to love the people I serve. My comfort level at my job has nothing to do with what constitutes life.

Similarly, whether I’m surrounded by my loved ones until the day I die, or whether some of them depart this earth before I do, my best and most loving relationship will always be found with God. I can enjoy my earthly relationships with others, but they aren’t my life.

Circumstances can change in a heartbeat, or in the cessation of one. They’re shifting sand. My life—what fulfills me, what brings me the best and highest joy—is now, and always has been, loving and being loved by God Himself, and sharing His love with those around me.

Yes, I would love to have a job that’s comfortable and easy every moment of every day. Yes, I would love to have my stepmother back for just one more day, one more phone call, one more text, even.

But even if I could….

Even if I could, what matters most in life wouldn’t change. My circumstances would change, yes. My level of joy? Oh, yes. At least temporarily.

But not what constitutes true life for me. Because true life is God, and He never changes.

I’ll go on trying to make positive changes at school. I’ll continue to miss Sheryl every single day. But I will refuse to believe that true life is found in the absence of distress or the presence of whatever, or whomever, I desire. Instead, I will do my imperfect best to live out the truth to anyone who might be watching that God is enough for me, now and forevermore.

The more the details change, the more what really matters, stays the same.

In that, I am comforted. In that, I truly live.

John 17:3—Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV)

Luke 10:27—He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NIV)

Enjoying Now What We Don’t Have Yet

vloveland / Pixabay

This past week, Lindsey, our 11-year-old daughter, became the first child in our family and the first grandchild on either side to win a college scholarship.

Her scholarship, presented at the fifth grade awards ceremony, was for reading. Earning it involved taking tests over various books of her choice, then accruing points depending on how well she scored on each test. Despite the fact that she only started public school in January, Lindsey had earned the most test points. She had also received credit for 2.5 million words (the first-place student, who had been there all year, had 3.4 million words).

Each of the six students who won a reading scholarship was called up onto the stage, given a medal, and presented with a large, foam-board “check” and a ball cap from the college the student had previously indicated he or she would be interested in attending one day.

Lindsey’s smile said it all. She was, and is, pretty thrilled—despite the fact that she hasn’t actually received the money yet. That’s because she won’t actually receive it until she enrolls in a four-year university and provides proof of enrollment to the foundation that sponsors the scholarships. When she does that, the money will officially be hers.

Why is she so happy now, if she doesn’t have the money yet?

Because she is 100% certain that one day, she will.

If Lindsey had any doubts about the commitment of the donor, or his ability to follow through, she wouldn’t be nearly as excited. She might appreciate that she’d been recognized during the assembly, and she’d probably feel hopeful that the donor would come through one day, but she wouldn’t feel the same joy that she feels now. Lindsey’s joy is based on her certainty that one day, she will receive what has been promised.

Life can be hard. Sometimes, it’s agonizing. But what if you could be certain, in the midst of the sorrow, that there will come a day when life is no longer hard? That tears of grief will never again wet your cheeks? That you will never again feel lonely, or inadequate, or hopeless?

What if you could be 100% certain that someday, someone would take away all your pain forever? That you would never again sin, or be sinned against? That all that’s wrong with this world would one day be made right, and that you would experience joy beyond anything you can now imagine?

Actually…you can. You can be that certain of all those things. That’s because Jesus has promised that this world is not all there is. He’s promised to come back for us—all those that love Him—and to take us to live with Him forever.

Too often, we make the mistake of thinking of heaven as some kind of eternity-long church service, and we’re understandably not too excited about that. But if that’s all we think it is, then we just don’t understand it at all.

Heaven is seeing Jesus’ face with no sin barriers between us. It’s never-ending joy. It’s eternal fellowship with people who will always treat us right. It’s never feeling less-than or unable. It’s no more physical limitations. Basically, heaven is the fulfillment of everything we’ve ever longed for, even if we didn’t know that’s what we wanted.

Lindsey is completely certain that one day, she will receive what was promised her. And she will—provided there isn’t some horrible catastrophe that wipes out the entire eastern seaboard, where the sponsoring organization is based.

You and I can be even more certain that we will receive what we were promised, because nothing can thwart God’s purposes or cause Him to be unable to make good on His word.

Whenever Lindsey remembers her scholarship, she will be encouraged that someone invested in her (even at 11 years old, she’s already thinking about it this way).

You and I can be encouraged that Jesus Himself said He was going to invest in getting things ready for us.

So when life gets hard—when we’re tired, frustrated, or grieving—may we remember that this is not all there is.

May we remember heaven, where Jesus is even now preparing perfection for us.

And may we begin to enjoy now what we don’t have yet.

John 14:2-3—“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for us? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (ESV)

When Moms Get a Little Bit Desperate

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

My daughters Lindsey and Jessica have several hamsters (it’s a little hard to keep track of exactly how many, because two of the hamsters are breeding females and, well, they breed. Regularly). I could go into all the reasons why I think caring for hamsters benefits my girls, but the reason that’s relevant for today’s devotional is this: Caring for mother hamsters seems to teach my girls an awful lot about motherhood in general, especially as applied to humans.

In other words, sometimes the girls don’t really consider the whole parenting thing from my perspective, but it seems like they automatically consider it from the mother hamsters’ perspective.

To prove my point, I’d like to share with you a conversation Lindsey and I had the other day.

Lindsey: “Mom, the mother hamster is desperately trying to run away from her children.”
Me: “Yeah, I can understand that.”
Lindsey: “She’s climbing up onto the roof, and everything.”
Me: (shrugs knowingly)
Lindsey: “I think her children are nuts.”
Me: (keeps my mouth shut)

God bless Iris (the mother hamster). That little critter taught my daughter more about mothering in a few seconds than I could have in a thousand lectures. I’d like to share with you three lessons Iris taught Lindsey:

  1. Sometimes, moms just need to get away. They may head to the roof of a wire cage, or they may lock themselves inside the bathroom for awhile even when they don’t need to use the facilities. Because sometimes, moms get desperate. They. Just. Need. A. Break.

And this is okay. Nobody would expect a mother hamster to feel guilty for needing a break from her children. Why do we allow ourselves to feel guilty for wanting to get away from our children for a little while? I mean, where did we get the idea that we’re never supposed to need a break? That if we do, it means we’re not competent enough, or spiritual enough, or “supermom” enough?

Even Jesus, when He walked this earth, took time away from His disciples to be on his own. (It’s not like He ever got away with it for very long, though; people always came to find Him. Sound familiar?) If even the very Son of God needed a break because He was human too, then why should we expect ourselves to be able to keep going indefinitely without one?

  1. Sometimes, moms need to get away because of their children. Somehow, it’s much easier, emotionally speaking, for Lindsey to understand that a hamster’s children drive her crazy than it is for her to understand that she and her siblings sometimes drive me crazy. Lindsey can look into Iris’ little world and see that, yes, sometimes kids drive their mom crazy, and it doesn’t mean that the kids are bad or that the mom is bad. It’s just the way life is.

In this way, Lindsey can understand that when I need a break from my kids, it’s not because I think they’re bad children (though their behavior may sometimes be bad). It doesn’t mean I don’t love them. And it doesn’t mean that I won’t come back and take care of them. Which brings me to #3….

  1. Mom always comes back. In other words, even though Iris leaves her babies sometimes, she always comes back and resumes taking care of them. She’s not trying to get away from them forever, just temporarily. Then, when she comes back, she’s the same loving, caretaking mom she’s always been.

Likewise, when you and I leave our children, they can be sure that we’ll come back, with no disruption in our relationship with them. We’ll pick up where we left off. It’ll be like we never left—except that now, we’ll be more rested. More patient. More willing and ready to do the things that motherhood requires of us.

The more I think about it, the more I appreciate Iris. I don’t know that I’ve ever considered a hamster to be a good example in terms of mothering before, but I do now. And I’m grateful to her for teaching my girls that it’s okay for moms to need a break.

The next time I need one, I’m going to take one—without feeling guilty. I hope you will follow Iris’ example and do the same. If you do, and you want a mommy friend to spend your break time with, you’re welcome to spend it with me. You know where to find me.

Just look up on the roof.

Matthew 14:23—After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone. (NIV)

Reading, Writing, ’Rithmetic…and Respect

StockSnap / Pixabay

When I picked Jessica up from school that day, I could tell that she was unhappy about something. “How was school today?” I asked.

“Not good,” she said. “Well, mostly good. But there’s something I’m really not happy about.”

Naturally, I asked, “What are you not happy about?”

It turned out that Jessica’s class had been outside for recess when a woman who was walking her dog passed by the playground. Several students ran over to the chain-link fence, saying, “I want to pet your dog!”

The woman graciously allowed them to do so, but Jessica knew they should have asked permission, instead of just telling the lady what they wanted to do. So she and another classmate walked over to the lady and the group of students so they could tell the students to ask politely.

It was at this point that their teacher saw several of her class clustered at the fence near a stranger. Ms. S. immediately walked over, calling the students to her. She explained to them that they had put themselves in a dangerous position by approaching a stranger who could easily have yanked them over the fence, and she told the students they would have to sit quietly during the rest of recess (about 5 minutes) as a reminder not to approach strangers.

Jessica was unhappy because she had approached the fence for what she felt was a proper reason, as well as because she didn’t feel there was any danger in approaching the woman. I explained Ms. S.’s thinking to Jessica, but Jessica was still frustrated. We discussed the incident for quite awhile, but Jessica just didn’t see my point. Ultimately, I wound up explaining to her that while I would have handled the situation differently, her teacher’s actions were not unreasonable. I told her that sometimes, we have to submit to authorities we don’t agree with (we teach our children that the only time they are to disobey a legitimate authority is if that person tells them to do something Jesus wouldn’t want them to do—and we’ve talked about what that would include), and I commended Jessica for submitting to her teacher’s authority even though she disagreed with the teacher’s decision.

Jessica still wasn’t happy. But that’s okay. Because in learning to process what happened on the playground, Jessica mastered far more than whatever academic information Ms. S. presented that day.

You and I face similar situations every day, and sometimes, we still struggle with responding correctly (and we’re a lot older than third grade!). We don’t like to have to obey rules we don’t agree with.

Take the speed limit, for example. Or, to go a little deeper, how about the rule about “no gossiping”? How about “exercise self-control in all things”?

We resent the rules we don’t like. We chafe under them. Often, we refuse to obey them.

I don’t know which of God’s principles you have the most difficulty obeying. But I know you have some that are difficult for you, because everyone does. We’re all sinners. We all disobey sometimes.

But I think Jessica got it right. Even when we don’t like God’s rule, we should obey with a good attitude. Why, because He’s God? Well, yes, that. But also because His rules—and the consequences for breaking them—are designed to protect us and teach us. They’re designed to help us avoid harm and receive blessings. They’re good for us.

Really? God’s law is always good?

I’ll let you answer that for yourself. But I’ll tell you this: when we disagree with God on the value of following His rules, well…He’s not the one who’s mistaken.

Psalm 119:1—Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. (NIV)