Listening to a radio show recently, a distant and forgotten memory resurfaced. I went to speech therapy in first grade. I was not sure why at the time but I recall that I talked like Elmer Fudd (“wascally wabbit.”) It was neither fun nor painful to go to therapy but it was em-baw-wahsing. One thing a first grade student does not want is any “special” attention that sets him or her apart from the rest of the class. One of the mine fields of life is to dodge negative stigmas that don’t go away such as looking or dressing differently. Even then, everyone wanted to be “cool.” We can’t all be cool or no one would be cool. I was never cool in any grade or any school.
During recess, cute little girls would chase the cute boys around the school yard. I had no idea what that meant but I knew I wanted to be chased. Other uncool boys would go tease a girl and then run off, hoping to be chased. The girl would look disgusted and resume her chase of the cool guy. Even then, I had enough dignity to refuse to initiate. As much as I wanted the attention, I feared and hated rejection a great deal more. Most males greatly fear repudiation from a female. It paralyzes not a few of us. It’s an unpleasant male quirk. In any case, rather than chase, I would tell the girl who was doing the chasing where the cool boy was hiding. It was the first grade equivalent of being the caring, listening ear to the high school girl (for whom I had a mad crush) spilling her guts about her mean boyfriend. (Why do women date and marry bad boys? Bad boys commonly turn into bad men. Sigh…that’s another subject.)
No one who knew the first grade boy could possibly have predicted who I would become. Speech defect, small, not cool, shy but an exceptional reader of books (I was several grades ahead of the normal level for my age.) The reading thing actually did mean something. Readers do two things fairly well: their spelling improves and they collect bunches of information (I play trivia games with aplomb.)
As a college student I traveled with an assortment of about 40 other Christian students on an organized trip around the world. We were supposed to be young adults who would be the Christian leaders of the future (they weren’t too confident about me but allowed me in at the last minute.) Still not cool, I was not selected to be one of the leaders of this group of future leaders. Isabelle, who was one of the adult commanders, looked me in the eye and said “I’m not sure about you.” That was fine. I wasn’t sure about me either. This was to be a ten week journey and about 7 weeks in, we ended up at a Christian retreat center in Germany. Since the next morning was Sunday, the operators asked the student leadership to select one of their number to give a sermon at the ensuing church service. To my utter astonishment, they nominated me! The adults were as baffled as I. It felt like they played eeny-meeny-miney-moe and blindly picked me at random. True, the speech defect was gone. True, I had a passion for the Bible by then. True, I was a collector of arcane information. Didn’t they realize? I was not cool.
Today I am a Pastor who speaks and teaches Biblical truth every week. Within my tiny world of family and church, I am not shy. Maybe even cool (okay, that’s pushing it.) I married the finest woman on the planet. Who would have guessed?
Let me quote from a now unknown source for an arcane item I found on the web. “NO ONE WHO SEES PART OF A THING, CAN JUDGE THE WHOLE THING.” No one can truly judge you or me. They only see part of us. They may only know our failures and missteps. Perhaps they remember us from first grade. (“Brian, you’ve changed! You are no longer three feet tall.”) Others may think more highly of us than they should (like our mothers.) Not to mention, that by the end of our lives, bad habits have been conquered, better character has developed and we’ve mellowed. Who would have guessed?
God knew. He sees us as we are AND as we will be. He does not hold our sins against us, forgets who we once were and faithfully works powerfully in our lives to transform us into someone better. Wouldn’t all of us like to be judged on who we will be, rather than who we were? Not likely with mankind but always true of God.
Romans 2 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 (NASB)