Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Life Imitates Lessons

Many times, as I’m preparing a lesson or have just finished teaching a lesson, something will happen that brings the lesson home to me. This does two things for me. First, it makes me take a hard look at what I’m expecting my kids to do. If I’m not willing to do it, then why should I expect my kids to do it?

It also gives me the why behind my teaching. Often, especially with my older students, I will share my struggles or my encounters with them so I can show them, “Hey, this is for real. I’m not making this stuff up. The Bible really does apply to everyday life.”

Last Sunday was one of those days. Coincidentally – or better yet, Divinely planned – both my high school lesson and my Junior church lesson was on evangelism. In both lessons, I spoke to the kids about the world’s dire need to know Jesus. With the high schoolers, we discussed the parable of the lost sheep. With the younger kids, we talked about sharing with others how we became a Christian. I demonstrated the important facts by allowing them to interview me. Our memory verse for the Junior Church was from I Peter 3:15,16: “But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

After lunch, my husband and I went to visit two ladies who were dying and their families. The first visit was emotionally intense because the daughter and grandaughter of the family pulled me aside to talk through some feelings they were experiencing. After two classes and this visit, I was emotionally drained. But we had one more to go. The second lady was also near death yet her family was not so open to our visit. We talked to the unconscious lady, prayed with her, tried to offer words of hope to her family, and left, feeling frustrated and wondering if we had done any good.

In the hallway of the nursing home, her two grandsons sat, waiting for the adults. We said goodbye to them, then one of them asked, “Why are you here?”

I didn’t expect that! I was so tired! Yet the words of the Junior church memory verse zipped through my brain, “Always be prepared to give an answer . . . yet do it with gentleness and respect.” I realized I was the one to give them an answer since I could better speak at their level than my husband. It also occurred to me that they may not be aware that their grandmother was dying and I needed to be sensitive to that. So I said, “We go to the same church your grandma went to. Whenever people in our church are really sick, we want to visit them and tell them how much God cares about them and how much He loves them. We prayed with your grandma and reminded her of some Bible verses too.” Then I went on to ask them about their game of “Go Fish” they had been playing earlier in their grandma's room.

These moments will catch us off guard. However, being prepared doesn't mean we'll be able to magically anticipate those moments; instead it means that even when we’re dog tired and emotionally spent and have a hundred million things on our minds, we will know what to say. Knowing what to say means we’ll know our audience and we’ll know what the Bible says. We’ll also know how the Holy Spirit works in the way he brings divine opportunities to us. We’ll recognize that we’re not alone. He is there to help us and enable us, even in our weakess moments. We'll have the bag of tools we need to give an appropriate answer.

Next week, I want to go back to my classes and say, “it’s true. People ARE going to ask you about your faith walk. They’re going to ask, ‘Why are you here?’ “What are you doing?’ ‘Why don’t you do the things the rest of us are doing?’” It’s just like Sam Seaborn said to Ainsley Hayes in the popular tv drama,
West Wing, about crucial decisions made in the White House: “We play with live ammo around here.”

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