I just came back from helping to dismantle our 4-H club display at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds. EarlyBird met me there and one by one we took down each child's craft item, removed their prize ribbon and then retagged the item for next weekend's fair.
The pile of ribbons was pretty amazing. 4-H is really geared toward encouraging kids. The younger bunch (ages 5-8) all get green ribbons and small premiums for every entry because they're not allowed to compete. The older kiddos (9-11) can earn blue, red, or...Hmmm. I only saw blue and red. At any rate, the older children are competing and earn higher money premiums and fancier ribbons for a well done project.
But there's a catch, while the older 4-H members do compete, their competition is not against each other. Instead, each judge is encouraged to look at the child's project in light of a standard set by the 4-H Powers-That-Be. They look at the child's age and experience level in that particular project area, then try to decide if the child measured up (blue ribbon) or if there is room for improvement (red or whatever else they have). Thankfully, the judges take time to write comments on the kids' entries letting them know both what they did well and what they could do better.
The hope is that the child will tweak their entry for the next fair and make it just a little bit better. (One of 4-H's themes is To Make The Best Better.)
As I've gone through this process twice this year with my co-leader and 12 kids, the Lord has shown me something; 4-H operates alot like He does.
God wants to take my best and make it better. He does not compare me to my best friend, to my next door neighbor, the cashier at the Mart, or "that lady" I admire. He does not place me in competition with Mother Theresa or Hillary Clinton or Meryl Streep, or Oprah, or Martha Stewart, or the ever intimidating Proverbs 31 Woman .
God only compares me (and you, as well) to a standard. Not an imperfect, subjective standard set by a committee, but by the highest standard of all - Himself.
I am to be perfect as He is perfect. Sadly, on my own that's impossible. I am like 3 year-old trying to build a 3 story house that will WOW the folks on TV - It ain't gonna happen. I'm gonna stack together some Duplo blocks and then wet myself on my way to steal a cookie.
So God steps in and helps. Not even once does he shake His head in despair and roll His eyes at my ineptitude and foolishness. Instead, He teaches me, He guides me, He writes His comments on my heart through the Bible and through His Spirit speaking through others. Sometimes His chastening is painful, but always, ALWAYS it shows me the way to be better, to be more like Him.
He is so Groovy!
You know, I don't care how many ribbons I get or how many pats on the back from others. What I really long to hear is from Him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest."