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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: Am I still good enough?

Vieraskieliset / In-english
24.4.2017 6.13

We are he­a­ding to­wards spring and the time when schools close for the sum­mer. Stu­dents will get re­port cards with gra­des to show how well they have done at school. Some stu­dents have done their best to get good gra­des and have wor­ked hard on their as­sign­ments. Some ot­hers have, for some re­a­son, not wor­ked so hard and will pro­bab­ly get lo­wer gra­des. Yet some ot­hers may have had he­alth prob­lems that have in­ter­fe­red with their stu­dies.

Stu­dents are usu­al­ly in­te­res­ted in their gra­des, as are al­so their friends, re­la­ti­ves and ot­her ac­qu­ain­tan­ces. Qui­te un­ders­tan­dab­ly, stu­dents with good gra­des re­cei­ve po­si­ti­ve feed­back from ot­her pe­op­le. Stu­dents who have not done so well may not like to dis­cuss their gra­des pub­lic­ly. It would be good if gra­ding did not dis­cou­ra­ge stu­dents from furt­her stu­dies but rat­her inc­re­a­sed their mo­ti­va­ti­on to work cons­cien­ti­ous­ly on their as­sign­ments.

I have won­de­red if be­lie­vers al­so tend to eva­lu­a­te their own or ot­her pe­op­le’s en­de­a­vor in faith with a gra­ding sys­tem? Does one get a bet­ter grade for going to ser­vi­ces or church of­ten or by vo­lun­tee­ring to work? Do even those who want to lis­ten to God’s word qui­et­ly on their own and be­lie­ve it per­so­nal­ly for them­sel­ves me­rit to be cal­led dis­cip­les? Who has the right and aut­ho­ri­ty to eva­lu­a­te the state of anot­her per­son’s soul.

Fa­ced with such qu­es­ti­ons, I feel my­self shrink away both as a per­son and as a be­lie­ver. I ad­mit that I have so­me­ti­mes won­de­red and eva­lu­a­ted ot­her pe­op­le ba­sed on what they have done or said. I have pon­de­red whet­her some words of deeds have ari­sen from faith or sin. As far as I un­ders­tand, if we are ge­nui­ne­ly wor­ried about the state of the soul of so­me­o­ne, we have the right to ap­p­ro­ach that per­son with mer­cy and truth. Have I al­wa­ys had the strength or cou­ra­ge to ap­p­ro­ach such a per­son, or have I per­haps sha­red my con­cerns with so­me­o­ne el­se? Pon­de­ring on such mat­ters, I can­not give my­self a very good grade. And my eva­lu­a­ti­on of my own en­de­a­vor in faith is even lo­wer.

Af­ter my ac­ci­dent and the di­sa­bi­li­ty that en­su­ed I al­so felt spi­ri­tu­al­ly di­sab­led and ex­pe­rien­ced my most se­ri­ous cri­sis of faith so far. I was no lon­ger ab­le to go to ser­vi­ces in the way I used to. My brain in­ju­ry ma­kes me ti­red, unab­le to con­cent­ra­te pro­per­ly, and overw­hel­med by so­ci­al con­tacts, and I the­re­fo­re can­not go to ser­vi­ces eve­ry week, or I go and on­ly lis­ten to one speech. Neck pain ma­kes it dif­fi­cult to sit in the pew, es­pe­ci­al­ly as I al­so need to avoid inad­ver­tent jost­ling by ot­her ser­vi­ce gu­ests, which may cau­se dre­ad­ful symp­toms. In big­ger ser­vi­ces I of­ten need to take a break and rest by my­self for a while.

Going to ser­vi­ces has not been the on­ly chal­len­ge in my spi­ri­tu­al cri­sis. It is not ea­sy to ac­cept and ack­now­led­ge that I can no lon­ger par­ti­ci­pa­te in the work of God’s king­dom in the way I used to. It has been pain­ful to give up my turns at ac­com­pa­nying the sin­ging as well as the kitc­hen crew and va­ri­ous long-term tasks. I so­me­ti­mes feel en­vi­ous loo­king at my friends ac­ti­ve­ly in­vol­ved in their du­ties, which al­low them to feel that they are truly part of their home cong­re­ga­ti­on. Alt­hough I know it is not al­wa­ys ea­sy to le­a­ve the home for such du­ties, I al­so know that we of­ten feel an up­lif­ting sen­se of fel­lows­hip while wor­king to­get­her.

Loo­king at my­self, I have strug­g­led with the qu­es­ti­on of whet­her I can still con­si­der my­self a be­lie­ver, being so crip­p­led and doub­ting. How can I find my place among the ot­hers? Am I ac­cep­tab­le be­fo­re God?

With such thoughts I on­ce sat in the pew at the back of the sanc­tu­a­ry. I was arou­sed from my pon­de­ring by the spe­a­ker’s words: ”If Je­sus came to our ser­vi­ces to­night, gu­ess who He would go to meet first? He would go to the one with a bro­ken mind who feels weak and unac­cep­tab­le.” I awo­ke from my re­ve­rie with a start. My ey­es fil­led with te­ars, and my mind fil­led with light. I re­a­li­zed there may be many ot­her lis­te­ners who feel the same way. The spe­a­ker con­ti­nu­ed to pre­ach all lis­te­ners their sins for­gi­ven in Je­sus’ name and blood. I felt safe to be­lie­ve those com­for­ting words to my­self.

Mart­ha and Mary both had a place in Je­sus’ com­pa­ny. One of them was hard­wor­king and ac­ti­ve, but she pro­bab­ly al­so lis­te­ned to Je­sus’ inst­ruc­ti­on while wor­king. The ot­her sat qui­et­ly lis­te­ning and did not par­ti­ci­pa­te in prac­ti­cal cho­res.

There is still room in God’s King­dom for both Mart­has and Ma­rys. When our time co­mes to le­a­ve, we will not be as­ked how hard we wor­ked to earn the grace. The on­ly thing we will be as­ked is whet­her we have faith in our he­art. Are our sins for­gi­ven and are we at pe­a­ce with God? Pos­ses­sing that grace and pe­a­ce, we can sa­fe­ly close our ey­es to this world and be re­mo­ved from time to eter­ni­ty in­to our he­a­ven­ly home with God.

Text: Rai­ja Ves­te­ri­nen

Trans­la­ti­on: S.-L. Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal Fin­nish blog post here.

20.2.2020

Sa­nat, jot­ka Her­ra on pu­hu­nut, ovat hen­ki ja elä­mä. Joh. 6:63

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