|Posted by Lorraine Serra on December 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM|
I am so blessed by the current class of 5th grade student in our Bible study time on Sunday mornings. They are average 10 years olds who enjoy the usual array of activities in their lives such as soccer, baseball, dance and electronic games.
To say that they are bright and insightful is an understatement. The love, care and instruction of their parents is obvious in their behavior and thoughtfulness, but it is clear that the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in their sweet hearts and minds, is actively at work.
We talk about their experience of the world so far, the things that scare them, worry them, hurt them, and excite or encourage them.
Of course, right now they have their minds set on Christmas shining up ahead on the horizon. So, we began the study of Isaiah 40 for the Advent season while creating loving and lovely Christmas greeting cards for several shut in members of our church family.
I have to say, just this project alone made an impact on them. They created truly beautiful cards, and there was nothing slipshod or thrown together with a chicken scratch message here!
I was blown away and told them so. They understood how important it is to not feel forgotten. I shared how much it will mean to each person to see a personal message with their own name at the top, not a generic note to some random older person stuck at home or in a care facility.
Well, I want to share with you the hope I have today for our youth because of what 2 students shared.
While they crafted away on their cards, I read to them the opening verses of Isaiah 40, the prophecy of a coming Messiah. In verses 4 and 5 Isaiah declares what the Lord has spoken.
He paints quite a vivid picture. A voice cries out in the wilderness, “Prepare a way for the Lord”. He speaks about the impossible taking place: every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made low, the rough places will be smoothed and a clear path with result to welcome the Savior. A way needs to be made so the glory of the Lord can be seen by the entire world together.
So, I asked the class, busy with scissors, markers and glitter glue, do you think the earth was actually changed and rearranged so Jesus could come? Is that really possible? It seemed God was telling the people through Isaiah that some big machinery was going to be necessary to make a way for the Lord.
Living in Pittsburgh, the idea of flattening and straightening the hills and valleys was amusing to these kids. They giggled out loud at the thought! We are surrounded by hills, valleys, and winding roads.
No, the lay of the land wasn’t what Isaiah meant. When John the Baptist cried in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” he was fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of some 700 years earlier. He wasn’t talking about heavy equipment either.
He was warning people to admit they were flawed and weak, that they often please themselves instead of pleasing God. (That's called "sin").
He invited them to change their hearts to yearn after and follow God. He wanted people to get ready for an exciting and powerful kingdom that was coming.
I suggested that when we choose Jesus as our Savior, He gives us forgiveness and loves us so much that He always levels our personal valleys and mountains. Jesus has freely given us a smooth and direct path to His heavenly kingdom because of His death and resurrection.
I told the students, "People who don’t know Jesus might not be able to understand this. We need to be able to tell them."
“So,” I asked, “In your own real life, how can you see that Jesus has made your path straight?”
With little hesitation, one young man shared that because of Jesus, he is able to turn away from doing the wrong thing or saying something mean. He feels better doing what pleases God. Loving God and loving others feels good, was his summation. (That's called "peace").
Another young man shared that he recently experienced the death of a lady who was like a second grandmother to him. He said he was very, very sad to lose her, but he felt the comfort of Jesus because of the promise that she was in heaven. That knowledge made the pain easier to bear. (That's called "hope".)
Praise God, for it is He who has revealed the mysteries of the kingdom to little children! Matt 11:25
Simple theology: Receiving God’s amazing love makes us want to live in love, empowers us to overcome grief, and gifts us to walk with confidence along the path Jesus has prepared for us.
How has Jesus leveled your valleys and mountains this year?
Categories: ADVENT 2012