Worst to First

1 Samuel 16:7b Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

I spent the first few years of my academic career labeled with the academically "challenged" students. Not that I remember this. What I do recall is that when my family relocated from Seattle to Wichita at the beginning of 3rd grade, that I was placed with the "slow" group. These were the days when classrooms had become "open" and four groups of students would be shuttled from one teacher to the next according to our academic prowess. My prowess had been assessed as more of a crawl than a prowl. Therefore, I was plopped in the bottom tier.

Something happened that year. I don't know what day it began but quarter by quarter I kept getting shifted from one category to the next until finally I had ascended from the bottom bracket to the top. I had managed to go from "worst to first". Some teacher had truly seen me and recognized that behind my shy smile and lack of confidence to speak up, I knew more than I communicated.

This morning I am reading Philippians 1. This chapter contains the encouraging words paraphrased by saying, "God's not finished with me yet." They actually read, "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Verse 6) This verse makes me think of my little family. Since there are five girls and one man who reside here, it's definitive that someone is "carrying on" every day of the week. Up in heaven, Jesus is carrying on about me on those same days of the week. But He is all worked up about molding my heart and transforming my life into one that resembles His. That thought will smooth over quite a bit of household drama at least in this mama's heart.

However, it is love is that covers the worst of girl drama. A few verses later Paul is talking about love (Verse 9). I'm always looking to grow in love, so my heart snaps to attention. Paul is praying for the Philippian church that their love will abound more and more in _______. Before I read on, I try to guess what will fill the blank. Is it compassion, mercy, kindness or goodness? These are all cousins to love and attributes my house could use a healthy dose of. My guesses are way off. Paul fills in the blank with knowledge and depth of insight.
  • Knowledge - The more I know God, the better I can love His people.
  • Depth of Insight - The more I understand God and His Word, the more completely I can love His people.
I'm still sometimes tempted to shelter my mind from being noticed. After all, everyone knows that smart chicks have "good personalities". They are the kind of gal whose homework you may copy but certainly are not the brand you ask to the prom.

Yet God's ways are not our ways. He loves a mind that longs to know Him. He cherishes a heart that desires to understand Him more. He digs smart chicks...and dudes for that matter. Any soul who longs to know Him is indeed intelligent beyond measure. We attempt to classify our own: She's smart. He's athletic. She's shy. He's weird. This is one of the many ways we know we were made in His image but are certainly not God. He only has two categories: She loves me. She loves me not.

Jesus, You don't have to pull petals off of daisies to guess how much I love you. The smartest thing I have ever done is give my heart away to You with reckless abandon. As I use my mind to know You more, You reward my heart with greater love. Today I will remember that the way I can love my family and friends the best is by pursuing You the most.

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