“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23).

During our visit to Israel, I discovered yet another paradox in my makeup, Adonai. I need Your help making sense of this one. I became aware of my struggle as I desperately was trying to download pictures from my cell phone onto a friend’s computer in order to send one of my blog posts direct from The Holy Land. In the effort, I had to try and try again to outsmart the intelligence of the computer, which thought my mobile phone to be a demon of some sort which was trying to attack the computer.

I even tried to make the mobile phone photo files look like computer photo files, but the computer wasn’t fooled. As much good as I intended by my attempts, the computer would have nothing to do with my offering.

I realized two things from this effort. Both relate to how I behave toward You. First, Lord, as much as I want to help, no amount of cleverness on my part is going to convince You that something incompatible to Your plan actually is compatible. Unholy is unholy.

That part of my lesson was pretty easy to pick up; the metaphor stares me in the face every day. The second challenge, however, is not so cut and dry. I have concluded that I seem to learn pretty effectively using trial and error as my technique. As a matter of fact, I have to confess that most of my best learning seems to have come from this approach. The problem is You do not appear to be a God who designed me to be tolerant of error. Quite the opposite in fact, errors are frowned upon in Your Word. I started looking up the scriptural events associated with errors, and it’s not a pretty picture. When someone in the Bible is in error, he or she needs to be corrected immediately.

Interestingly, I always have associated the word error with the word sin; but researching the translations, apparently I was in error. The most common Hebrew word to define error is…well, Elohim, that’s where this gets tricky…there is no Hebrew word for error that’s used consistently. Most of the words that are used imply a mistake or a blunder.

On the other hand, the two most common words for sin imply an intentional act of disobedience or “missing the target” (either intentionally or through neglect).

So I’m a little confused. Are my errors, if presented with the best of intentions, OK? If I keep on erring, improving in time, coming closer and closer to Your intended design for my life, is that OK? Is that management by grace? Or is that the easy way out? Should I be continuously pouring through Your Word, seeking ways to premeditatedly avoid errors?

If the latter is Your preference, I’ve got to confess that’s hard work, especially for someone who has seemed to prove a successful pattern in the worldly concept of trial and error. I’ve been complimented by my peers repeatedly for my tenacity in the face of failure, picking myself up again and again when I don’t quite get it right, learning bit by bit and giving You the credit along the way for my improvement.

Still, the more I investigate, the more evident it appears that my method, however successful by worldly standards, is simply not…biblical. As a matter of fact, it seems to me Cain was a trial-and-error kind of guy; I don’t remember it working out too well for him. The successful examples in Your Word all suggest that when faced with challenges, choices and learning opportunities those who pray, study Scripture and focus on Your instruction get immediate positive results, not a graduated series of near-miss improvements.

This is a difficult lesson, Lord. I like grace. I depend on grace…maybe a little too much. I’m beginning to wonder if I perhaps take a more casual approach to my responsibilities because I know You’ve got my back. Does that really get me off the hook? What if I were to approach every action and decision ahead of me as if there were no grace or mercy, but still knowing You are my Judge? Would my behavior be different?

I’ve become too dependent on repentance-after-the-fact. I get that errors may not be sins of commission, but they sure do seem to be sins of omission. Whether unknown or presumptuous, I should not take Your immeasurable treasure in kindness toward me for granted.

I’ve confessed this to You before, and I’ll need You’re continued convicting help, Holy Spirit, to show me the difference between haphazard experimentation and prayerful exploration of Your instruction. Please help me see the errors of my ways before making them. Help me investigate and dig more deeply into Your Word, rehearsing my decisions and actions rather than living a seat-of-the-pants lifestyle.

Master, I know I’ll still err; but with Your guidance, I can become better practiced in a new approach (at least for me). I’ll strive to look ahead, study intently beforehand, pray and practice trust in Your instruction. What name would fit such a lifestyle…presumptuous obedience? Possibly. Or maybe another word, overused and poorly understood in today’s world…faith.

I’m Yours to teach.

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