A Sunday School Lesson: If only…

You are never too old for the word of God. If you’re a children’s ministry worker, or a youth worker at a church, it might seem as if you’re doing it for the kids, and everyone says you’re doing it for the kids, “thank you for your dedication to serve”, but you probably often find that you are gaining so much personally from the ‘preaching’ of God’s word there. (Or, say, the telling of it at story time.) I quite regularly cry during the slower meaningful kid songs…

Today, what got me was the lesson on the Israelites complaining to God. Complain complain complain. God frees them from slavery in Egypt, and what they have to say is that if only God hadn’t. Do they not know God is faithful? That God knows better? (I direct that question at myself too.)

Numbers 11:18 “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!”

Numbers 14:2 “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!”

Numbers 20:3 “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD!” [all NIV]

In addition to this C for complain, we also have C for compare; we want to try on other people’s stories for size. “Maybe my situation could turn out like theirs – that’d be pretty neat, it worked out great.” “Ohno-ohno what if my future is like theirs? That is a ridiculous mess.” But no. We are only ever to live our own story. Not that The Chronicles of Narnia are a pinnacle of systematic theology, but I like how complicated concepts are simply presented, such as Aslan’s words to Aravis in The Horse and His Boy: “Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.” (Much like Jesus and Peter’s conversation in John 21:15-23.)

In futility, even the least novel-reading book-loving of us will fabricate story after story of possible scenarios for uncertainties in life. Fantastic beyond belief, some are B-grade romance, some are C-grade drama, some are explosive grade action (where you KO all the bad guys with hidden in-born martial arts skill, win a Nobel prize, and retire to the Algonquin forests).

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  — Psalm 46:10-11

“Be still” is not to say ‘do nothing’, but to let the rumblings inside be still, so that you can keep looking forward, doing what is right as the occasion arises, as things are revealed to you and as you realize it, and stop fixating on the past or the fantasy.

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