November 23 – Shin - Psalm 119:161-168

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23 – Shin - Psalm 119:161-168

Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of thy words.
I rejoice at thy word like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love thy law.
Seven times a day I praise thee for thy righteous ordinances.
Great peace have those who love thy law; nothing can make them stumble.
I hope for thy salvation, O LORD, and I do thy commandments.
My soul keeps thy testimonies; I love them exceedingly.
I keep thy precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before thee.

If you were to take one moment to praise God seven different times during your day, would that change you?  Would it distract you from selfish behavior or whining or gossiping or negative thoughts enough to remind you that it is God who is in control of the world, not you?   Would refocusing seven times each day on the Creator of the Universe, praising Him for His creation and His activity in your life and on this earth make you more productive and happier?  Would it offer something different in your life that would make it better?

The church desperately needed a teacher for the sixth grade Sunday school class and Dad had talked to everyone.  No one wanted to take those kids.  It wasn't that they were particularly awful or anything, they had simply worn out too many teachers.  I was a senior in high school and after Mom and Dad had talked about it, they asked if I would consider taking the class.  That was a difficult decision to make.  Mom had the high school class and I loved being in there. We had great fun together, but I also realized that this would be terrific experience for me, so I decided to say yes.

The next few weeks were spent in intense preparation.  I pulled games and lesson plans together, anything to keep these kids interested.  Sixth grade is a fabulous year for kids.  They are just beginning to really look beyond childhood and seeing what it might be like to be adults.  But, they still have a sense of wonder about so many things and their little minds are cocky and bratty and intelligent and yearning.

The first day in the class came and I was ready for anything.  I was ready for everything. When the hour was finished, I went home for lunch, put my head down on the table and cried.  They didn't give a hoot about my planning or my great ideas. They tested me and I failed.  The problem was, I couldn't give up.

Mom gave me the best advice I’d ever had that day for working with kids who are forced to come to Sunday school and desperately want to enjoy it, but have no plans to help make that happen.  She told me to stop and ask them to join me in prayer every single time they started getting out of control.

Well, I could do that.  The next Sunday morning I had more plans and ideas and I was ready once more to tackle a room filled with bright and bratty kids, and I had one more tool in my belt to manage this group.  I’m certain that they might have told their parents the Greenwood family prayed a lot, because we prayed a lot that morning.  In that hour long period, we stopped to pray at least five times.  But, each time, I got their attention for just a little longer.  The weeks went by and we didn't have to pray quite so often. Either they were better or I had gotten better, or if I’m fully honest, all that prayer just begged God to hang out with us and pay attention.

Prayer changed that classroom little by little and has worked in every crazy classroom filled with kids who really didn't want to come to Sunday school I've ever managed.  We focused away from ourselves and onto the one solid and firm foundation we can trust in a crazy world.

Seven times a day – Praising the Lord.  That seems like it could change a lot of hearts.