Actually, I’m not sure what round we’re on. There have been several.
Yesterday we received Paul’s test scores in the mail from last spring’s Minnesota Test of Academic Skills. The Saint Paul schools always send these scores about this time of year.
His score: zero.
And that was on the alternate achievement standards test for kids in special education.
After a few of these I expected it, but the stark reality of the score still makes me pause, because I have a decision to make in that moment:
- Do I consider all the assets Paul has and brings to our house to balance off this rotten score? Do I think about how loving and happy he is? Do I add in how happy his sister is to serve him? Do I consider how he has helped me view the world differently? Do I hope in his innocence?
All of these are good things, but I’m back to me trying to give him some value that can justify his existence. And eventually it just makes me think about all the things he can’t do.
- Or do I obliterate my desire to find comfort in temporal, earthly things, even good things, and remember what God has to say about his creation and his elect? Things like:
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you, declares theLord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Isaiah 43:1-2 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob,he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
2 Timothy 1:8-12 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,which is why I suffer as I do.
I do not need to justify my son’s existence to the world. I may and do have to defend him, but God has already confirmed his value because God gave him life. And God created Paul for God’s own purposes, which do not include high test scores. All the other joyful things, like Paul’s generally happy disposition, are just benefits.
So, the score came, and the pause came, and I did not succumb to the temptation to make much of the earthly gifts Paul has. That is a grace from God as I have frequently failed at that first moment. But not this time. Lord willing, not the next time, either.