Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes things. Prayer is the conduit through which God works in the lives of mere humans. And prayer is what allowed me (shy, introverted me) to stand before a large group of women and share what I learned from our study of the book of James this year.(Asked to Speak) And guess what? I didn’t even turn purple!!….well, at least I don’t think I did. The fact that I literally sprinted across our church to make it in time to speak, left me both out of breath and out of any moisture in my mouth! So compared having what felt like cotton in my mouth, I was too distracted to turn colors! 😉
I wanted to share a part of my talk here. Both as an encouragement to others, and as a reminder to myself of God’s grace and power.
All God’s Words are true.
Jesus is my friend.
Jesus is God.
Jesus’ boo-boos wash my sin away.
Some words in the Bible are red b/c Jesus got boo-boos and bleeded.
These phrases have been spoken by the three year olds in my class this year. Three year olds! The love they have for Jesus is precious. The love they gladly accept from Him is inspiring. Every year I think this is surely my favorite class, and this year is no exception. I am so very blessed to be able to teach God’s littlest lambs each week.
As I have been reflecting on this past year in James, I have realized that in teaching the children, God has been teaching me. Having to take big spiritual concepts (like patience in suffering) and boil them down into nuggets of truth a three year old can understand takes some serious supernatural intervention.
Each week as I would go through the adult lesson, I would find myself asking the Lord to reveal the most fundamental basic truth to me. In a way, I was asking God to treat me like a three year old and teach me His Word. And you know what? He did!
You know, maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said that we should come to Him like children—we should come not assuming we understand, not with preconceived ideas or an agenda, but just humbly come to our Father and ask Him to teach us in a way we can understand.
Each week as I looked for those truth nuggets (as I call them), a theme started to emerge. A beautiful, life changing theme—like a thread woven throughout the book of James. God showed me that at it most basic level, the book of James can be summarized in two words. Follow Jesus.
Seems pretty simple right? Easy enough for a three-year-old to understand, yet profound enough to spend a lifetime absorbing and implementing.
Follow Jesus—Do what He says in His Word. Love as He loved. Give as He gave.
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
I love James because it is so action oriented. I think so often we can fall into a pattern of being passive or complacent in our walk with the Lord. I know for many years I looked at my faith as “something I did in the past” I had asked Jesus (past tense) to forgive me of my sin when I was a child. I was (again past tense) a Christian.
But my faith is not a past tense event. My faith—my hope—is my present tense relationship with Jesus. Being a Christian is not about an event that happened or a prayer that was prayed in the past. Being a Christian is about following Jesus every day. Of course we have a moment when we trusted in Christ for the first time, and we will not follow Him perfectly every moment of every day. So naturally there are some past tense parts of our story. But as James so beautifully wrote in His book, our faith needs to be active. We need to display our faith by our actions. We need to live our lives aware of the fact we live in the Presence of God.
So for me this year has been all about what it means to follow Jesus. I posed this question to my three year olds and to the fourth graders I teach on Sunday morning. I asked them what is important to do when you follow someone.
Here are some of their answers:
You have to stay close to them.
You have to go where they go.
If it gets dark, you might have to hold their hand.
You have to ask them to wait if you have to go potty 😉
You have to trust that they know where they are going.
If you fall down and get a boo-boo, they can carry you.
Sometimes you might have to walk in their footprints if you can’t see them very well.
Wow. I couldn’t have described the Christian walk any better!
Stay close to Him.
Remain in His Word.
Hold tight to His Hand.
Tell Him your needs, fears, desires (and even if you have to go to the potty!;)
Allow Him to carry you.
Follow Him one step at a time, as you walk in His footprints.
My prayer is that we all will purposefully follow Him and allow Him to lead us wherever He would have us to go.