Famed conductor and music instructor Ben Zander starts his school year by announcing to the class that your grade for the year is an A. The one condition is that they write a letter now, dated May at the end of the class year. The letter must begin, Dear Mr. Zander, I got my A because. They are then to describe the student they are going to become through that year. (see: How to give an A)
It seems to me, God does this same thing with us. Jesus, sitting with his disciple said,
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15
Jesus and his disciples were a kind of brotherhood of the the towel. Jesus was the chief servant washing their feet and calling them friends. We discover in friendship with Jesus a new motivation to serve, which is love.
When we are given that A before we deserve one, it takes away the nagging self doubt that keeps knocking us out, “Will I be good enough”, or “am I loved?” In serving God, I have sometimes struggled with a kind of performance anxiety. I can relate to the words of the DC talk song,
What if I stumble
What if I fall?
What if I lose my step
And I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue
When my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble
And what if I fall?
However, I’m learning, this focus on oneself and our inadequacies is not fruitful. Instead a gentle focus on the unfailing love of God is the path to growth.
These words of Richard Foster are a great reminder that above all God just wants our presence.
“… Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence.
And he is inviting you – and me- to come home where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. He heart is enlarged to take us in.
For too long we have been in a far away country; a country of noise and hurry and crowds, a country of climb and push and shove, a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home; home to friendship and fellowship and openness, home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. “ Richard Foster.