Earthly Awards ...
... can have unintended consequences.
The picture shows a Ribbon I won in 1952, when I was an Eighth Grader. Spelling and Arithmetic were about the only things I was good at. And I was really good for my age.
I recall a morning in Kindergarten, when the teacher had to leave the room for a few minutes. She asked me to lead the other children in counting from One to One Hundred, since she knew my parents had already taught me that. So I did, and I recall it was the first time I ever felt good about myself.
We lived in Thornton Fractional Township, and as an Eighth Grader, I entered the Township Spelldown. T.F.T. was a very populated area, so there were hundreds of kids in the Spelling Bee.
And I won!
They gave me the ribbon at the conclusion of the Bee, and I took it home. But the principal asked me if I would bring it to school the next day, so I did.
They had an Assembly in the early afternoon, and in it, the Principal formally presented me with the ribbon in the picture. So I felt pretty good about me, again.
When I got back to the classroom, I gave the ribbon to the teacher to keep in his desk. As I was returning to my seat, a Girl named Audrey said something sarcastic, like "Awww ... you're giving you precious ribbon to the teacher so it will be safe, huh?" Walking back to my desk, I mouthed "Nyah Nyah Nyah" at her.
Only trouble was that she thought I was really hurling some pejoratives at her, and the next thing I knew, she was along side my desk. And she slapped me roundly in the face!
Well, my Dad always told me to never hit a lady, but if a woman ever hit me, she wasn't no lady.... So, instinctively, I backhanded her across her face. She was so shocked that she stumbled back, hit the empty desk across from me, and fell head over heels into the next aisle.
On the plus side, if she'd gone out for the High School Gymnastics Team in 1952, she'd have had a head start on Backflips..... But on the minus side, 5 minutes after being formally presented with the big ribbon over there, we were both sent to the Principal's office. My first time ever, since I was really a model student.
After calling the dichotomy of my situation ... getting an award and then getting sent to The Principal's Office ... he sent us back to class. With the admonition for me not to slug any more girls.
It occurred to me that this was all a pretty good lesson to learn. So if you're a poor lost soul like me, whom Jesus drew to Himself and saved your soul, don't let anything the world awards you change or replace that realization. We may be referred to as priests and saints in Scripture, but we didn't win that award ... Jesus did. He's just graciously sharing it with us.