Dearest people of earth,
I am in a writing mood. I want to write all sorts of small, quotable sentences, but I figure it might be a good idea to give them a centralized purpose. So I think I’m going to tell you a short story. If you want to get straight to the point, look for the paragraph that starts with, “So the point of this is that..,” okay? Awesome. Here we go.
So for the last three weeks I have been teaching the junior/senior high school class on Sunday mornings. It’s the traditional Sunday school set up; the kids come in for a lesson about God, and someone who knows a bit more teaches them. For me to teach these kids, many of whom have been Christ follower all their lives, seemed a little intimidating to me. I’ve been following our Saviour for almost two years now. That really isn’t a very long time. Truly, I am still an infant in the faith, and it is this that causes me to have some reservations about truly teaching (not that it always has, as I was far more prideful about my knowledge in the past).
And let me tell you, the lessons that I taught did not have the effects I wanted them to have. I wanted to be able to see these kids be moved by the power and grace and holiness of God, so much that they could not help but jump head-first into the world and seek and spread His kingdom. This idealism I had in mind certainly did not come to fruition. The first time I taught, I had a difficult time getting any response at all from these kids. They didn’t seem moved; they seemed bored. This was not what I wanted to happen. It seemed to me that instead of pulling them towards God, I had made them more apathetic to Him.
The second week wasn’t much better. In fact, it was worse. The first week I stayed loosely to the lesson plan. This week I tried to stay to it. I was continuously looking back at my notes, and not much was being said. It was not until the end of the time I had that I had some redemption. We played a game along the lines of Quelf(look it up), but in teams and with biblical themes. That went over wonderfully, and most of the class participated and enjoyed this activity.
This last week, in my mind, was the most successful. The introduction activity was shaky at best, but it represented some major points in our prayer life. And fortunately for me, things went up from there. The lesson was about repentance, our need for it, and God’s grace for giving it. For those of you who don’t know me, I sometimes have issues with this. I mean, our sin nature does cause us all to struggle with true repentance at times, right? And I opened up a little to these kids about how shameful I had felt, and how I hid from God at times because I couldn’t bear to ask for forgiveness and retribution. I think that’s when it may have hit home for some of them. I got a few nods, and was pushed to go with it. I dove into a tangent about how David was so guilt-ridden when he sinned with Bethsheba, and how he cried and cried out to God for forgiveness. I talked about he was not just saying these words to God, he was being moved in His heart by God and a desire for God, so that he would turn right around and commit to Him. This lead into the key part of the lesson, because David goes from lamenting over his sin to rejoicing in God’s forgiveness. I was given the words to speak life and truth this morning, by reminding the kids about how God sees them, that is, perfect and blameless and clean, despite all of our sins, and about the desire that God has to love us more than that to hate sin.
I think - I know God was in my words this morning. His message of love and grace was amazingly clear. I don’t know if I spoke the right words at the right time to reaffirm or encourage someone in that classroom, nor do I know if anyone’s spirit was kindled. They all could have gone home and forgotten anything that was said, or dismissed it as a basic reminder of our faith. I hope that’s not the case, but if it is, I think that’s okay.
So the point of this is that our pasts will affect our messages. I don’t believe God causes bad things to happen, or that He causes us to struggle with certain things. But I do believe that we are given opportunities to use of hardships of the past to become tales to shape futures. What we learn in our lives is far easier to emphasize than what we learn through a lesson plan. We are shaped into who we are, and who we are going to be for a purpose. This purpose is to bring glory to God through love, love, and love.
I love you. I really, really do. Please let me remind you of who you are. You are chosen by God. You were not chosen by random selection, but because Go was pleased in you. He wanted you because you are you, and because He wanted to live in you. You are His child. He has adopted you into His family. He loves you as a father and a brother and a friend and is all of these things for you. He has brought you into His home and He wants you to stay. You are made perfect. No, that doesn’t mean you can’t mess up or won’t fail. IT means that you are seen as blameless in God’s sight. You have no more sin that could be counted, no more stains on your cloth. You are clean. And God loves you. As far away from God you may have felt, as sinful as your life could be, and unloved as you believed, God was chasing after you. God was and is pursuing you now because He loves you so desperately that He would forsake His own life in exchange for yours. He is willing to go the distance as many times as it is needed so that you will find that He loves you. He doesn’t quit. He never stops. He always loves you.
Be blessed, my friends.
Your brother in Christ,
Declan Stuart Linfoot