Sometimes high school students ask me how to become a judge. Here’s my standard answer:
First, study hard and get as good grades as you can, then apply to a good college. When you get there, study hard and get as good grades as you can, then apply to a good law school. Study hard at law school and get hired by a good law firm or public agency. Then do your best work so that when you apply for a judgeship people will think you’re capable and will want to support you.
But I have a confession to make. I didn’t always try my best in school. Not at law school, not in college, and certainly not in high school.
My lack of a studious nature in high school came up in a Twitter exchange I had with That Crazy Redhead. She was trying to encourage writers, but my response went in a different direction:
My algebra travails are true. I got a C in my first semester of high school algebra and an incomplete for my second semester grade. That meant I had to make up the incomplete or it became an F.
I never made up the incomplete.
I got an F.
I flunked high school algebra.
But I Didn’t End Up Living In A Van Down By The River
Flunking algebra did not lead to a life of ruin and despair, no matter what Chris Farley might have said about ending up LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!
Instead, I ended up at a good college, I got into a good law school, and I tried to be a good attorney. It worked out because when I applied for a judgeship there were people who were willing to support me and write letters recommending me for the position.
This is really different from my walk with God, though.
God didn’t look at my life’s transcripts or my work record to decide whether I should be admitted to his kingdom. It’s a good thing, too, because my life was nowhere near worthy of him.
Paul might as well have been writing about me personally when he said:
Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:3-7.)
I was dead, spiritually dead. It wasn’t a matter of trying hard and still not being good enough. Dead is dead.
But God’s grace is rich, and while I was dead he made me alive in Jesus. How rich is that grace? God has not only made me alive but has raised me up and seated me with Jesus in heaven.
Our heavenly Father has already seated me with his Son? Yes, and that seat is on a throne that exceeds by an infinite measure any that has ever been seen in any earthly palace.
It sounds better than sitting in a van down by the river. It’s even better than sitting on the bench in my courtroom.
So really, flunking high school algebra is not the end of the world.