Science Projects & God’s Riches

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He did it again.  My son failed to tell me about another deadline in his science fair project until the last minute.  The first deadline he sprung on me was the all-important “please sign here” document to show that you agree to the project your child chose and are aware of all the due dates.  I got that one shoved in my face while applying my makeup in the bathroom about 5 minutes before we had to leave for school.  As I quickly sign the dotted line while lecturing him on responsibility, he does mention something about needing to buy a fancy sounding science instrument.  Then he tells me not to worry because they are doing most of the work in class, and he’s on top of it.  Uh-huh.  Like he was on top of this paper?  I never see that deadline sheet again until I ask the teacher to text a picture of it to me the day before Thanksgiving break.  By the way, I hate asking teachers for favors like that, but I’m concerned we might miss a due date.

Fast forward to last Monday, our first day back after the break: “Aren’t your results due this Friday?”  “I don’t think so.”  “Check again.  I’m pretty sure something is due.”  “Oh, maybe.”  Cue another responsibility lecture.  We had to rush order that key piece of equipment for his project; it did not arrive on time.  Thursday morning, the measuring instrument finally arrives.  After school, a basketball game and a late dinner, my son opens the measuring tool, tells us he “knows what he’s doing” and promptly breaks the fragile glass instrument.  In fairness, it could have happened in the packaging, but at this point, I really don’t care.  I tell him to leave the room and give me a minute (not a good sign in our house).  Then I inform him that he will call any stores open late that might have this tool—a hydrometer.  Mind you, a hydrometer is commonly used in home brewery kits or vineyards for measuring alcohol content.  My son is 13; I don’t care.  I also inform him that he will be paying for this new hydrometer and possibly the broken one as well.  He has no money; I don’t care.

Clearly, my ability to care is gone.  Meanwhile, my sweet husband is sitting back being all calm and reasonable (I hate it when he’s like that) calling other stores to help my son because as he says, “The stores are all about to close, and he doesn’t have time to call them all by himself.”  I hate it when he makes logical arguments when I’m trying to be righteously indignant.  No store has a hydrometer or home brewing kit in stock (interesting fact for the preacher’s family to know).  Even with a rush order, the fastest Amazon can guarantee is Sunday by 8pm.  Then I do the thing I hate, I call the teacher and ask for a favor.  I explain our predicament and ask if we should do a different project tonight or turn it in late.  She tells me to have him turn it in late.  I tell her that my son should be penalized for his irresponsibility, but she says she will only take 5 or 10 points off because even she can see that late deliveries and broken instruments happen to us all.  My son is in tears because he is truly a good student who normally keeps up with his work but just messed up this time.  My husband is taking this all in stride—not a peep out of him.  Even the teacher sees no need to lower the boom in this situation.  Why is everyone being so gracious about this except me?!

Why did I tell you this long story about my science experiment drama?  Because I want you to see that sometimes I struggle with extending grace.  I realize what God has done for me.  He deigned to share with me (even me!) the unfathomable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8, Colossians 1:27).  He has forgiven my sins and redeemed me through the riches of His mercy and grace (Ephesians 1:7 and 2:7).  He is patient with me and my sins and failures through the riches of His kindness (Romans 2:4).  He blesses me with the riches of His wisdom and knowledge (Romans 11:33).  He takes care of me and spares His wrath all to demonstrate the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19; Romans 9:23).  He is rich toward me in every way imaginable, yet sometimes I struggle with reflecting His riches to others in my life.

This is the time of year when most of us in the western world reflect on our blessings.  As Christians, we especially strive to pay homage to God as the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).  It is also an extremely busy time of year jam-packed with extra responsibilities, family obligations, parties, and spending.  It is very easy for me to lose sight of all those rich blessings in the midst of the chaos.  When the Grinch in me starts to rear his ugly green head, I try to remind myself of God’s rich grace towards me.  Another end-of-semester project is due and you’re telling me at the last minute?!  I’ll strive to be as gracious as God is with my failings.  A student broke his giant candy cane prop for the Christmas program after I threatened them within an inch of their lives not to play with it (true story)?  I will offer the same mercy God offered me.  The Christmas cookies burned, someone peeked at their present, or the elf didn’t move last night?  I will treat others around me with kindness despite frustrating circumstances or other people’s bad attitudes.  And I will pray for some of the riches of God’s wisdom to help me be rich towards Him during a month when I’m struggling to find a free moment to myself to pause and reflect on all of God’s riches.

By the way, I was late submitting this article.  Isn’t that rich?! 😉