It was Sunday, October 18, 2015. I sat in my recliner, my coffee beside me, my fuzzy blanket over me, my Bible open with my Sunday school lesson resting on top. I stared at the words, and the words just stared back. I often fight the flesh when it’s time to get out of bed. My mind cries out to parents who are not there, “Just five more minutes!” I fight it, like the rest of the world, and face the day. I have my routine, which rarely varies. But on that day, it was more than just fatigue or lack of sleep…I had nothing left. I couldn’t get my brain into gear; the words on the lesson, and in my Bible, were clear to my vision, but not to my heart. The thought of facing a half dozen, bleary-eyed students (three of whom were my own children), left me feeling desperate. I wondered if my mental frenzy qualified as a “sick day”? Could I just stay home and rest my tired head?
No. Of course not. Like most churches, teachers are few. Oh, I’m sure I could have gotten a substitute, but what could I honestly say was wrong? “I’m worn out today, you take it, k?” or “I’ve got something going on in the old noggin that just isn’t right, so I’m sittin’ this one out. Thanks.” or maybe, “I’m tired today, so I’m gonna stay home.” Thoughts of my mother flashed before my eyes. I watched her go to work and to church with a sinus infection more than once. I saw her soak her hands, which were twisted with Dupuytren’s Contracture , in warm water just so she could get dressed for work. And then she went to work. One time, she went to the ER on a Sunday morning for a kidney infection, just so she could bring a lady to church with her that morning. You know what? She made it! If I called in sick to Sunday school over some such lame excuse, I think the Lord would tell my mother and she would come find me and set me straight. But she wouldn’t need to, because I could hear her voice in my head. I knew what she would think. And, couldn’t every single church member in America (or the world over) claim fatigue on a Sunday? Yes! We’re all tired. I needed to go; I needed to be there, in all of my inferiority and fallibility and weakness. I had to stand up in front of those students and teach them the Bible. But how?
As I sat in my recliner, letting these emotions wash over me, I knew I was not alone.
“You’re right, Valerie,” Someone said inside of me. “You are not enough, and you never will be, so just give up.”
So I did.
And when I quit, that’s when I actually began. I began to stop worrying about the lesson, and my ability (or lack thereof ) to teach it, and I began to say, “Here, Lord. This is what I need to say today. How can I do it? How can a sinner like me teach this? I don’t live this, not all the time. I am nothing.”
But that’s what the Lord likes to do, He likes to use nothings. He is not impressed that you are a woman who never wears pants. He is isn’t bowled over that you do not go to movies or that you never take one single sip of alcohol. He isn’t pleased by your smooth way of speaking the Gospel or of your high music standards or your short hair (men) or long hair (women). He knows that you are a thief (covetousness is sin, even if you don’t steal it), or an adulterer (remember, lustful thinking is adultery). He sees your pride, your vulgarity and your dishonesty (your kids are homeschooled but the state thinks they go to a Christian school, or you speed, or you refuse to pay taxes), your bitterness, your jealously – He sees every single wicked thing in you and in me, and He loves us anyway.
So let me tell you, I have nothing, and I am nothing – unless being a vile, wicked, sinner counts as being something.
But I do have a blessed consolation, and it is this: God is pleased with Christ, and, hallelujah, He is mine.
And with that in mind, I got up and taught Sunday school.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:57