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Words to live by

This little piece is especially for those who work so diligently teaching in Sunday school, Wednesday night Bible class, or Vacation Bible School.  Where would our world be without you?  (I’ve never really grasped why there isn’t a category in the Nobel Prizes for Bible class teachers.  Really, does that make sense to you?  Knowing how to split an atom or chart the human genome is fine, but it hardly compares with learning to tell the truth.)  With tireless passion you challenge Madison or Matthew to memorize a verse or two of Scripture.  You’re crestfallen if they can’t, won’t, or don’t.  You wonder if all your efforts are worth it, if you’re making any difference at all.  The me assure you that you are. You most definitely are.   


I learned the words of the Lord’s Prayer growing up.  The small church I attended was in the habit of saying it together every Sunday so its words worked their way into my heart and mind.  And to be honest, they were more or less in storage there.  They didn’t mean much to me and I didn’t do a lot with them.  But nonetheless, every Sunday I brought them down out of the attic, dusted them off, and they went from my mind to my mouth.  During this brief journey, they did leave some impression on me.  They struck me as words that were imposing, majestic, and definitely mysterious.  Hallowed be Thy Name . . . Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  I didn’t understand them at all, but they seemed too special for every day use.  They were stained glass words, reserved for Sunday mornings when people dressed in their best and thought about God for an hour.  After the final phrases had tumbled out, I would quickly put the holy words back where I thought they belonged until the next Sunday. 


I grew up when I learned the meaning of the words of the Lord’s Prayer.  The words themselves had never left me over the years.  They had remained in storage and hidden from sight, but they were still there.  Anytime I needed them, I knew where they were. 


Then something special happened. 


Somehow this collection of words morphed from being the Lord’s Prayer to becoming a model of prayer for me.  They went from being an object for rote recitation to something alive.  It became a model for teaching me not only how to pray, but also how to live.  They became words not for the inside of a building but words for all parts of life.  There were words about forgiveness, temptation, and dependence on God –-- the things I wrestle with daily. 


So decades after my initial exposure to them, these words live in me and through me in ways that I never dreamed of, ways that no one dreamed of --- except of course, that one Bible class teacher who had this passion about teaching God’s word.  For while it’s true that no one person taught me this prayer, it is also true that my initial response was so negligible for so many years that if anyone would have been responsible they would have thought their efforts in vain.  And they would have been wrong.  Teachers, keep planting and watering the seed and trust that God will take care of the rest.


He is faithful. 


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