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Praise God for my Sunday School lesson!

Perhaps last night's experience has finally taught me the lesson that I need to begin preparing my Sunday School lessons before Saturday. Specifically, before Saturday night. It all worked out great in the end, but that's not the point.

It all started when I had planned to prepare my lesson starting last night, after getting back from the sporting clays course and eating supper. I hung out with Mrs. Mellow and her father a bit, as he was going to soon be leaving to head back home and I didn't want to be a poor host. About the time he was getting up to leave, the pager went off. I called in to see what the problem was, and it was in an area of our application with which I'm completely unfamiliar. A quick check with the Sustainment Handbook yielded no clues on what to do, so I determined I'd have to go into the office to look into it. (Aside: I didn't really have to go into the office -- I could have worked on it from home by connecting to the office network, but it's simply easier and faster to drive the three miles to my office than it is to wait for the Windows laptop they loan me when I carry the pager to boot up and log in through all of the firewalls. Why oh why they won't authenticate my Mac OS X VPN client is the bane of my existence when I carry the pager.)

So I got in, poked around a bit and still was unable to find anything that would help me figure out what to do. At this point, I punted and paged an expert. It was after 11pm, so I wasn't sure if I'd get a response from him quickly. I didn't, so after about 15 minutes, I paged another expert, and got a response in a minute or two. My expert had to call someone else to determine what to really do, but once we figured it out, I was able to initiate a process that was going to fix the problem. The thing was, it was going to take hours to fix it, and I would have to baby-sit it for at least part of the time to make sure it looked like it would be OK. It turned out to be fine, and wasn't difficult for me to deal with, just a little annoying. However, I did learn more about our product, which was pretty cool.

How does this deal with today's Sunday School lesson? Easy -- it was after one o'clock this morning before I got back from the office. I started preparing a lecture on Job 6-7, but I quickly discovered that it was probably going to take me at least three or four hours to do what I wanted to do. I also quickly realized that there was no way I'd be able to stay awake that long and any lecture I prepared in such a state would have been pitiful and embarrassing. So I decided that I would cheat and use a ready-made lesson out of the Serendipity Bible, which is chock-full of great lessons for every chapter of the Bible. I decided to find a good Psalm to talk about, since they can be studied out of the context of our other studies without interrupting the flow very much. I looked for a Psalm about suffering since I thought that would meld very well with what we were studying in Job, and found Psalm 22, which is a great Psalm about suffering and faith. I typed up the questions they had for that Psalm, printed them out, and went to bed.

I drug myself out of bed this morning and made it to church just in time for Sunday School. After reviewing last week's lesson from Job, I explained to the class that I wasn't prepared to continue our study in Job and that we would be taking a diversion by looking at one of the Psalms instead. No one seemed to complain. We talked about Psalm 22 for the entire class period and discussed most of the questions that I had copied last night. It really turned out to be a good class. We saw that many of the things David was complaining about in this Psalm were the same kinds of things that Job was complaining about. We explored the relationship between this Psalm and Christ. The class discussion was thoughtful and interesting. I think that the class really enjoyed the lesson. More importantly, I think that today's discussion will help us understand and appreciate Job even more as we continue our studies.

I am profoundly humbled by this experience, because it's obviously God's work in my life and in the life of my Sunday School class. I went into today's lesson with very little preparation and God turned the class into one of the best lessons we've had since I've been teaching. That in itself is a humbling lesson to me. Whenever I'm tempted to start believing that I am a great teacher, I hope I'll think back to today and remember that I'm simply a conduit for God's teaching. And it's an example that God can and will do amazing things in spite of our human failings. I could have -- should have -- had a lesson on Job prepared for today's class. But I procrastinated and ended up not being up to the task and failed. However, in my failure, God showed his love and greatness by providing an excellent lesson for my class. Praise be to God!

And to top it all off, I received a page from work in the middle of today's lesson! It wasn't a big deal, just something that one of the people in Production Operations needed to make me aware of -- I didn't have to do anything as a result of it. But I didn't know that when the pager started vibrating, so I tossed a few questions out to the class and excused myself to make the call to see what was going on. When I came back into the room a few minutes later, I found the class engaged in one of the best discussions that I've ever known the class to have. Again, a truly humbling experience for me. And an experience that made me really excited -- it is so amazing and fun to be able to see God working right in front of your eyes.

That's what happened in Sunday School this morning.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 20th, 2003 01:50 pm (UTC)
For a nifty book on the Christological understanding of the Psalms, I recommend Christ in the Psalms by Patrick Henry Reardon (who also happens to be the editor-in-chief of Touchstone).
Jul. 21st, 2003 07:32 am (UTC)
How very cool - to know that you're not driving everything by your own strength, to see things happening through the Spirit and see students driving things through their own love. Wow.

Gotta applaud your scripture, too. I think we should pay more attention to scriptures of complaint - Job, many Psalms, etc. - as an antidote to the sort of Precious Moments version of Christianity that looks appealingly simple and pretty, but can't be reconciled with real life, with its confusing and complex and awful parts.
Jul. 21st, 2003 07:47 am (UTC)
Gotta applaud your scripture, too.

Thanks, but I'm pretty much tied down with what I'm doing here. Two years ago, I inherited the teaching of this adult class when the previous teacher retired. (Well technically, her husband (the senior pastor) retired, but the effect was that she wouldn't be around to teach anymore either.) The class started over ten years ago, with the intent of going through the Bible verse by verse, starting at the beginning. So, I pretty much know what's coming up -- I've taught through Chronicles, Ezra/Nehemiah, and Esther. Now we're in Job. When we finish here, we'll be in Psalms/Proverbs, etc.

But I completely agree. One of the greatest lessons our class has been discovering in our study of Job is that it's OK to be angry at God. And it's OK to tell Him that you're angry at Him. The important thing is to figure out what to do next, after recognizing and expressing your anger. This is not a message that I typically think of when I think about what "Christian teaching" encompasses.
Jul. 30th, 2003 10:02 am (UTC)
This is not a message that I typically think of when I think about what "Christian teaching" encompasses.
Such a shame, because everybody's in that place sooner or later. Analogy: You were having a terrible day and ripped into your best friend. Now what? Maybe you feel ashamed, and you avoid your friend so you don't have to admit that acted like a jerk, or maybe you make up reasons why you were right to rip into her and you decide she shouldn't be your friend after all. Or maybe you go back to your friend and make up. What you do next is crucial for the relationship...
Glad you church is addressing it, though.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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