Lessons from a Fourth Grader

Just last week I was one of several parent chaperones on an over-night field trip to the Oregon 4th_grd_3Coast for third and fourth graders. I was also invited to share the devotional after dinner and before s’mores. I chose to teach Psalm 139:13-16. Verse 16 reads:

Your eyes saw my substance; being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

According to my research, the phrase “my substance” refers to an embryo; and “in Your book” connotes the idea that the life in the embryo is established, or purposed, by God. Therefore, I shared with the children that each life is intentionally purposed by God. And since each one of them was purposed by God while still unborn, they, each one of them, is significantly important to God.

How important? Important enough that when God came in the flesh in Jesus Christ, He sacrificed for them. But not only that, He then rose from the grave and ascended on high. And it doesn’t even stop there; ten days later He sent the Holy Spirit that all who place their faith in Jesus will receive salvation, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thereby guaranteeing them to be with Jesus for evermore, amen!

So, the main theme I wanted them to understand is that they are purposed by God and therefore vastly important to Him. No matter what anyone ever says about them or to them, they are a daughter or son of the Most High God and loved dearly by Him.

After teaching this I asked them how they felt about being so important to God. Many hands went up with many different and wonderful answers. But one little girl’s answer arrested my attention so much that I just stood looking at her.

“How do you feel about being so important to God,” I asked.

“Speechless.”  

I was left speechless; so was everyone else. What an apt description from someone so young.

I get so busy trying to understand what I can of God and then preparing to explain it so others can share in that understanding, that I often forget just how awesome God really is. What wonder God presents to us. What wonder His creation presents to us. And what wonder our very bodies present to us.

Speechless.

Perhaps speechlessness is the essence of worship. We are in such awe of God we can’t even find words.  Speechless, or silence, may be one of the main postures to assume as we desperately desire to hear from God. Could it be that our hearts are more open to God and His work in our lives if we are in a speechless state; when we are quiet and in a posture of reverent awe? Such a posture quiets our minds, preparing our souls for God to do His deepest work in the darkest parts of our souls.

Yes, fourth graders have a lot to teach us if we just listen to what they have to say. I’m speechless!

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Election Fatigue and Dignity

We’ve all seen a lot of crazy stuff this election season. And, yes, I have my preferences and opinions as we all do.

My biggest disappointment, though, even in the midst of such questionable characters, is the unrelenting hate-speak I’ve seen on many social media platforms. Much of it is shameful. Speaking hatefully toward those not voting the way I am voting is miles away from being Christ-like. So I am mystified by people expressing faith that are also expressing hate for those thinking and voting differently than they do. Sadly, I expect this from the population at-large; but it ought not to be part of the Christian landscape.

“The tongue is a little member and boasts great things … With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the image of God.”

—James 3:5 & 9

James is definitely speaking a truth that is painfully apropos in 2016. But thankfully, I have also recently seen great expressions of love. I’ve seen younger people helping the elderly. I’ve seen a Food Bank providing food for any coming to them for help. And even on Friday night, we had the privilege of hosting a table at the Hope Pregnancy Clinic’s annual fund-raiser. Yes, I believe life begins at conception (see Psalms 139:13-14, Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 1:35 & 44). At the banquet we heard testimonies from women that had been helped medically but also spiritually. They were given options, including adoption. They were given car seats, baby clothes and toys. They were treated with love and respect and the dignity we should all show each other.

One speaker shared of a decision where she had previously chosen to terminate a pregnancy. She spoke eloquently and frankly about the guilt and shame she lived with. She spoke that with her next pregnancy, she came to the clinic thinking she would make the same decision again. Instead, she met Jesus through a counselor that didn’t judge, shame or insult her. She said she also wasn’t treated like a number. Instead, she was introduced to the love of our Heavenly Father. She learned of God’s grace, mercy, and especially of His forgiveness. That day the eternal life of this woman was saved as was the life her unborn child (who is now flourishing).

So my point is that we are not always going to agree with each other. In fact, the last two paragraphs may get someone’s ire up because they don’t define life the same way I do. But instead of choosing to flame-throw hateful words at one another, why can’t we accept each other where we are at to then look at areas of commonality. Can we really solve any of the pressing issues in our country by continuing to call each other names? Do we really think God smiles upon the insults we so readily throw at each other? Sure, there’s a lot wrong with our country, but why not try to be about what’s right about our country? And perhaps the beginning of what’s right starts with us treating each other, differing views and all, with respect and dignity.