Passing Muster

About fifteen years ago, I had a dream in which I was a student sitting in a classroom. The “teacher” (an older, distinguished-looking gentleman) was handing back test papers. He gave me mine. At the top of the paper, written in red, was the grade of “67,” underlined twice.

I awoke, knowing two things. First, the “teacher” was God, and I was His student. Second, I was “almost” passing, and that thrilled me to no end! In my mind, I was almost “there” (good enough, acceptable). I had almost “achieved” the magical grade of 70 that would somehow make me a “worthy” person. Then I’d gain access to whatever the rewards were for “living right,” and no longer could anyone  reject me as being “not quite good enough.”

But as time went on, I came to understand the Truth. What God was really telling me in that dream was that no amount of “good works,” or “good intentions” could ever earn me any kind of rights with God, who is eternally perfect. Knowing that an “almost” perfect grade of 99 on my test wouldn’t have been any better In the eyes of God than was my “almost passing” grade of 67 took the heat off me of continually “trying” to be and do just a little bit better at everything.

So with that right head knowledge that was still in process of being dropped into my heart,  I began to understand that my need to be made acceptable in the past was greater in my own eyes than was God’s loving acceptance of me. I couldn’t see that I was already accepted. I kept trying harder to get what I already had.

But when the memory of the dream returned, I once again smiled, knowing that God’s timing is perfect. This time I knew that God hadn’t been the one grading my performance. I had been. It was I who had given myself the grade of “67.” Until the moment of the realization, I never saw myself as ever being quite “good enough” to measure up to anyone’s standards.

But God in His merciful understanding has only one test in life that He will give to His students, and He is expecting us all to pass with flying colors, receiving a perfect grade of “100.” God’s “test” consists of only one question:  “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that you need Him to save you from your sin?” The moment we give an answer of “Yes,” we “Pass”-from death into life, and we’re forever “in.” Included in Christ, we’re always “Approved” because Jesus Himself is eternally approved! Our status cannot change because Jesus Himself can never change!

When we keep trying to prove to ourselves and others that we’re “plenty good enough” to be accepted by them, we get so busy trying to fill our own need that we overlook the same need of others:  to know that they’re fully accepted in Jesus.

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