Saturday, December 15, 2012

Giving Up Everything for Love



Guest post by Elvia Miller

 They are a small group of three- to five-year-old children that I teach every Wednesday. There are about eight of them, six who come consistently. We usually cover the same stories. Jesus was born of a virgin. Jesus is God. I learned the stories myself as someone who loved the Lord told of the story… and yet the magnitude of it never really sank in until much later.

“God has a plan” and “Everything happens for a reason” are platitudes we use to comfort or explain. I marvel at the plans of God and how everything fits together. I had known that I was going to teach of Christmas because what else was I going to teach…Easter? That was a no-brainer.

It was in another class that God started to work on my heart. The pastor taught the Cruciform Marriage class. My husband and I made the sacrifice to wake up early on Sundays for this class. I had missed the Sunday School class the week before. I had counted myself lucky that I missed the wives-submit-to-your-husbands lecture. I wasn’t left totally unscathed. This particular Sunday, we learned the second part of the passage, Ephesians 5:22-33, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The pastor painted a picture of the church as a woman. The poor thing never seemed to get it right. She was a Cinderella or Snow White who needed to be rescued. Along came the Prince who would rescue her and elevate her. But the Prince never gave up his kingdom for her. He never pretended to be a pauper to rescue her. I thought of this. It burned within me and cleansed. Jesus came for his church, his bride and it wasn’t easy—it was a sacrifice.

That night I lay in bed and cried. My husband could not console me. I just kept repeating the verse over and over. There was no explanation. The verse said it all. I pictured Hosea, the prophet who was commanded to love a harlot. He was the example of how God loved us even before Jesus made His appearance. We are a fickle bunch, loving everything and everyone except the One we were created to love; God, who saves us even when we are wrong. He is God who saves us even though we are harlots to this world.

As I prepared to begin the children’s Bible lesson, I glanced down at their faces. Their sweet innocence was marked and their eyes were open wide, awaiting the message. I prayed. I prayed that they be like the good soil and understand the story that they will hear so many times. I prayed that it would not just be a story for them but an understanding.

I asked them, “Who is your favorite superhero?” The answers varied: Bob the Builder, Green Lantern, Hulk. I threw in Superman and Batman. They got excited talking about those they considered heroes. We talked about their super powers and what they could do. We talked about how they save people. Then I asked, “What if they had to give up all their special powers in order to save us?” The children looked confused. Why ever would a superhero give up their powers? Why ever would someone give up what made them special and be normal, and be humbled. I told them it was a sacrifice. Who would you give up your super power for? Most of them answered with family members, but it would have to be for a really good reason. What if you had to give up your super power for someone who had wronged you? It was beyond their comprehension. I left it hanging there and hoped the seed would grow in their hearts.

Christmas is about the Son of God, the Prince of Peace giving up more than his super powers, giving up his God-ness, to save us, a people who can’t seem to get anything right.

I learned about Christmas through teaching little ones about Christmas. I wonder about Jesus now. How much harder was it to know that he was God stuffed into the body of an infant? How much harder was it to know that he was King and to be rejected by his own people, his church, his bride? To know, even though he was young, that he was like a lamb sent to the slaughter? This truth is the essence of the Gospel. It’s such a privilege to teach this truth to young minds. It is through teaching that we teach ourselves sometimes. Praise the Lord!
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Elvia Miller is a wife, mom, elementary school educator, Bible teacher, choir soprano, jogger, friend, and daughter of God.

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