I want to tell you a story.
But first, a little background...
I work at a Residential Treatment Center,
which means, the boys who are RESIDING there are also receiving TREATMENT.
It's basically a 24 hour therapeutic environment where growth and change have the best chance.
There's this boy where I work, we'll call him Ethan.
Ethan is a very "difficult" boy.
He doesn't understand that often what is best for him is something he does not like.
If he doesn't want to do something, he refuses, and whoever gets in his way will receive his wrath.
When at home, this boy refused to go to school.
He ate what he wanted, and he did what he wanted
(played video games, read comic books.)
It is my task to get this boy to participate in school.
Each day, I tell him that he needs to participate in school,
or there will be consequences.
I enforce these rules in any way that I can.
On this particular day- he was refusing to remove his hands from his ears.
And in so doing refused to participate, so the next step was having him leave class.
Well, you see the problem, if fingers are in ears, words are not getting to those ears.
after having the entire class move locations, because this boy WOULD NOT,
I sat with him.
He called me names, accused me of ruining his life and made sure that I knew how unnecessary my actions were.
And I listened.
I explained how I was trying to help him.
One of the administration described the situation like this,
"Ethan, right now you're hanging off of a cliff,
and the staff are reaching down to help you up.
And you're smacking at their hands."
Later we were called up together to the weekly meeting where we
talk to administration and therapists.
After some talking, the question was asked of me,
should this boy get another chance?
Well at that point I began to cry.
I looked at Ethan and said that I would give him another chance.
He apologized, promised it would not happen again, thanked me for forgiving him.
And in this small circumstance
I can not help but think that I got a taste of what Christ must go through with me, every day.
The parallel is obviously small, but let me explain.
I want Ethan to learn and to grow, and when we get down to it, it is literally my job to make that happen.
Because I want him to learn, I made the situation the best I could so that could happen.
I warned him before class of the consequences, and tried to explain things to him, and yet he refused.
His behavior begat punishment, and yet I sat with him.
He showered words of hatred down on me.
He slapped at the hands that bent down to save him.
And then when the time came when his fate was in my hands
when he turned to me for forgiveness,
I showed him mercy.
And I did it knowing that inevitably it would happen again.
Because I know he WILL, someday, learn.
And I trust him to try.
Is this not a small, less infinite example of my relationship with Christ?
Am I not this young boy?
Christ is my teacher,
giving me perfect experiences, catered to my needs.
He tells me his expectations through commandments and modern day revelation.
He fosters growth in every way.
He sits and stays while I curse his name,
eager to listen and heal.
He pleads my case, he forgives, he shows mercy.
He knows I will inevitable fail again.
Because he knows I WILL someday, learn.
And he trusts me to try.