Thursday, September 03, 2015

Digging Into My Past

Several days ago, there was an e-mail in my box from Amy in our WCS business office. Our board of directors now requires all potential employees to pass a background check before they can be hired. Apparently, this has filtered down to all of us, including me, even though I am in my eighteenth year of teaching and coaching at Westbury Christian School. The consent and disclosure form is pretty simple; name, aliases, social security number, current and former addresses; current and former phone numbers, Texas driver's license number, and e-mail. I struggled for a bit with my address/phone in Tennessee; after all, I haven't lived there since 1998 but it came back to me like it always does. I'll turn it in tomorrow and then they can start digging. I only hope TMZ does catch wind of it!

There won't be anything for them to find. No warrants out on me and I have never been arrested. No divorces or civil cases or restraining orders. I owe money to no one and I have never used an alias, although sometimes my 8th graders call me Most Excellent Coach Hawley, a reference to the first chapter of Luke. I did get two speeding tickets more than three decades ago and a ticket for an expired Nebraska inspection sticker while a student at Harding. Other than that, I've led a vanilla life. But just because they won't find any dirt on me doesn't mean I am innocent. I often ask my students, "Can you sin without breaking the law?" The obvious answer is yes. Lying, except under oath, is not illegal. Neither is lust or gossip or greed. The converse to that question is more complicated. Speeding is illegal but to get your dying child to the hospital, is it sinful? There is a classroom argument waiting to happen when you get into the what ifs and how about this?  I don't deal in arguments- I just try to get them to think a little.

So, I'm innocent in the sight of the law but that doesn't mean I am not ashamed of what I've done. Having no mug shot to share or incarceration tale to pass along gives me no claim to be pure in heart. I cringe when I think of my past and I am convinced many of us do. Guilt is powerful but it is conquerable! Look at what Paul wrote in Romans 8:1!
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
So, I'm not perfect.... but I'm in Christ!
I'm not sinless.... but I'm redeemed!
I'm not who I can be.... but I'm not who I was back then!
I'm not proud of my past.... but the past has passed and I can let it go!

No, my friends, my struggle will never be over what others can discover about my brushes with the law; it's what I let nibble at my conscience over sins that have been forgiven. It's the constant drip-drip-drip of shame eroding our faith in the grace of God if we let it. Let me make a bold claim right here in public, or as public as any blog can be: I'll never be incarcerated in any governement-run prison. I just need those daily reminders not to imprison myself.

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