I fear I get more out of my Sunday school lessons than the kids do. Except it’s not really a fear –because I know they get something from it and one day I pray they will be able to draw on the teachings –not mine, but the teachings from the Bible.
I once heard that teaching makes you learn things in a different way –It is one thing to know something, and it is another thing to know something with the intent to teach. I find this to be true.
You see, we are working through the Promises of God. Many of them, not all. But many of them. In order for me to teach these kids these promises –I must first believe them. Know them. Understand them. Really get them. Because if these kids so much as smell doubt? They will attack like rabid dogs. Ok, well, maybe not that violently. But they will find that doubt and expose it. Because that’s what kids do –right?
So when I study, even if I already KNOW this promise, it’s like I’m learning it for the first time, and in many cases –I am. Because I am learning it in a different way. I am not only learning it for my sake –I am learning it for theirs. I am understanding the ins and outs of this promise so I can explain it to them, even though in many cases –they could probably do a better job explaining to me than I to them.
I wasn’t scheduled to teach last week. But my co-teacher was sick and asked me to fill in last minute. I don’t think it is ever a coincidence. You see. Because this lesson was on how everything works together for good –for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
It was a fairly simple outline –in fact, there were pieces laid out for me to put together, a timeline ready for the kids to fill out and practically the whole lesson laid out before me. But me, being me, and knowing that I needed to understand more than just the surface of this lesson –dug deeper.
That Sunday I felt I had dug so deep that perhaps I didn’t fully grasp it, and maybe I should just go with the surface promise –because that felt easier. I was more comfortable with that. I even had a word search to fill up time (those kids love them some word searches.) You see, this promise is one that I have no problem teaching to them. I have no problem believing it –for others. I have no doubt that God will work everything out for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. But lately, you know, I feel that maybe somewhere along the lines –perhaps I got off track too far, missed the turn and need to get back on the right track before that specific promise can be true in my life. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. But it’s where my mind was that Saturday night as I cut out the pieces for my lesson. Praying that I would somehow, be able to convince these kids that I at least believed what I was saying -if not just for them.
I started the lesson by handing them each a piece of a puzzle I had bought the night before. One piece each. Between the lot of them –they had 6 pieces. I asked them to tell me what they thought the WHOLE puzzle was just by looking at their little piece. There were some pretty good guesses: A fire truck. A hotdog. A parade. A donkey. Some of them flat out said they had no idea because they couldn’t see the WHOLE picture and one actually guessed accurately what the puzzle was.
We set the pieces aside and moved onto our story which happened to be about Ruth (we also talked briefly about Naaman). But there is only so much you can tell about the story of Ruth to a class of 1st and 2nd graders, but we muddled through it –drawing out certain parts of the story, making emphasis on the points that not everything was going swell for Ruth, but she continued to trust God. Even when things didn’t look so promising. We also may have gotten sidetracked with names and questions like “Was Obed’s last name Bed? O. Bed?” –we also may have gotten derailed with a giggling fit over that. But I digress. We had the main points -I called it a win.
When the story was over –we looked over some things in our life that might not make sense to us now. Things like where we live, what church we go to, who our friends are….and then some not so good things like getting sick, moving away from our friends, having an old bike. We pieced the pieces together to spell out the word good –drawing from the inspiration that ALL things (not just some) work together for good.
…and then we went back to the big puzzle pieces. We took our 6 pieces that on their own didn’t make much sense and didn’t make much of a picture. I made them choose an “item” to go with it: having an old bike, who our friends are, where we go to church. I tried to help them mentally connect the two pieces and realize that on their own -ascribing an event to their actual puzzle piece. So instead of just a piece we had “Friends” and “Getting sick.”
I tried to help them see that while those pieces might not make a lot of sense on their own … when we take them and plug them into the WHOLE puzzle (I had the rest of the puzzle done up on the table) it makes a bunch more sense and the whole picture is clear. We talked about how we might not see the whole picture (maybe we can only see our old bike right now) but God sees the big picture, he knows and understands and even if we might not understand now –He does.
Maybe they got it, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they got hung up on Obed’s last name or the puzzle piece in front of them. Maybe this is just another piece in THEIR own puzzle of life. I don’t really know.
Fast forward to last night…when at our AWANA group, I was reading the almost last story in our story bible book and came across the phrase that I have read countless times over the years: Never stopping, Never giving up, Unbreaking, Always and forever –Love.
And it hit me.
I might be stumbling through life right now, trying to understand where I am going and grasp the reality that yes, He really does have this –not only in other people’s lives, but mine as well. I might be trying to shove my pieces in the wrong holes…But it doesn’t matter where I am, or how lost I may feel. Or how badly I feel I may have screwed up. He’s got this. This isn’t a mistake. This isn’t on accident. I am where I am for a reason, a purpose, a bigger picture that I might not see or ever see. But He has this.
And He has this with a Never stopping, Never giving up, Unbreaking, Always and forever –Love.