the art of the deal

“Oh, please Lord, just let the zipper on my backpack work one more time and I promise I’ll get a new backpack, clean this one out and throw it away” I felt myself praying as the bell was about to ring and my backpack had busted wide open as I was loading my books and computer back into it because I would be changing classrooms at the bell. This was not a good time for my backpack zipper to quit working. But then is there ever an opportune time for something I depend on to break? That was a rhetorical question, don’t feel you have to answer.

However, full disclosure – this isn’t the first time the zipper on this backpack has come apart. I have been through this a few times before. And on those occasions, I prayed essentially the same prayer and God answered in the affirmative, my zipper miraculously came together again and I got through the day without losing the contents of my backpack. God honored my request in those moments of need. He kept His end of the deal, but obviously, I did not, which is why I find myself in this all too familiar situation again today. You would think I would be too ashamed to ask God to bail me out once again, to pray the same prayer, after I had not done what I promised I would do. But desperation causes us to take desperate action and to pray desperate prayers. (I think they call those hail Mary’s?)

Why did I not do what I promised God I would do? Well, once my backpack zipper was working again, I didn’t see the need for a new backpack and didn’t want to take the time to shop for a new one, nor did I want to spend the money required for a new backpack. But there is another reason, perhaps even more compelling than time and money, which figures into my decision making. I like my old backpack, it’s just the right size and has the right number of compartments. I have things perfectly organized so that I can find what I need when I need it.

You see, my backpack is really my portable office during the school day. That’s because I’m a substitute teacher, so I’m in a different classroom every day, plus I often change classrooms several times during a single school day. So I carry with me everything I think I will need or want. This would include my laptop and any books I am currently reading, my Bible, current Bible study books, my Lipton tea, lunch, pens, paper, my school ID., phone, Kleenex, Band aides, wipes, hand lotion, paper clips, post its, dry erase markers, – you get the idea – whatever I think I might need, I carry with me. (no wonder the zipper broke, my backpack is kind of overloaded)

I don’t really want to do the work of cleaning my old backpack out. There are lots of papers in there, as I am forever writing things that I plan to finish writing later, so I save them all. Plus some articles that I’ve been meaning to read – well, you get the idea – mine is the backpack of a hoarder or a saver, depending upon your perspective. (I wrote a post about that some years ago – “hopeless hoarder or savvy saver?”)

Anyway, today history is repeating itself and I once again, have a choice to make. God graciously answered my plea in part. My backpack’s zipper is not completely restored but is partially intact, enough to keep the contents of my backpack from spilling out if I am careful, I hope. Now I have another opportunity to do what I promised God I would do the last time this happened – clean out and throw away the old backpack and start fresh with a brand new one. Sure, I am comfortable with the old one, it’s what I know. But just maybe, it’s time to trust God and to do something new. (are you seeing where I’m going with this, dear readers?)

This backpack situation is really reminding me of all the other situations in which I cry out to God, making a deal with Him, “if He will just ____ for me, then I will ____ for Him.” In other words, if God will just rescue me from my situation, I will do things differently, I will not end up here again. So, I cry out to God, make a deal with God, God then rescues me, keeping His part of the deal, but I default on my promise or part of the deal (if not initially, then eventually) and find myself right back in the same situation, crying out to God once again, “Oh God, if You will just . . . then I promise I will . . .”

And so it goes. I think this is what is commonly called “the vicious cycle.” How to break free? God always keeps His part of the bargain. His word tells me as much.

“If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.” (2 Timothy 2:13)

I also have this promise from 1 John 1:9 which assures me that God always upholds His end of the deal.

“If I confess my sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive me my sins and purify me from all unrighteousness.”

Even though I haven’t kept my end of the deal, God will always keep His end. If and when I turn to Him and confess, He will forgive me, clean me up and give me another second chance. How ironic that in my secret identity role as the “blackboard bandit” of the school, I recently wrote on the classroom white board that God specializes in fresh starts, in Do Overs, in second chances, new beginnings and clean slates. It is my hope that those words will encourage the students who read them. Looks like today, I’m the one who needs reminding that this is God’s character, because I’m the one who finds herself needing yet another second chance today.

I find that I totally identify with the apostle Paul when he said this about himself in Romans –

“For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. . . . What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:15, 19 & 24)

And that’s me in that moment – zipper broken, bell about to ring, stairs and crowded hallways to navigate in order to get myself and my broken mobile office (aka broken backpack) safely and intact to a classroom on another floor of the building – me attempting to strike yet another deal with my Heavenly Father. I wonder if He was thinking, “I’ve heard this one before, wonder if this time will be different?” Except God doesn’t have to wonder because He knows the end from the beginning. And still He gives me another chance, knowing full well that I will not keep up my end of the deal. God gives me the Do Over I desire, the Do Over I do not deserve. I love these words of the Psalmist which say –

“He does not treat us (me) as our (my) sins deserve or repay us (me) according to our (my) iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our (my) transgressions from us (me). As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are (I am) formed, He remembers that we are (I am) dust.” (Psalm 103:10-14)

That’s why I know I can call upon my Heavenly Father again and again and He will hear me and He will answer me. God does not hold my past mistakes against me. He always extends mercy and forgiveness to me because He is faithful and compassionate. That is the very nature of His character. And His character does not change.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

I will find myself in trouble and in need again, but this I know –

“Because of the Lord’s great love I am not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

sincerely, Grace Day

One thought on “the art of the deal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s