a girl, her pink guitar, and a Sunday morning learnin’…

a girl, her pink guitar, and a Sunday morning learnin’…

I had a moment this past Sunday. Just a small one, but one big enough to linger throughout the rest of the day.
It happened while I was teaching a new song to the kids in my Sunday school class, Victory Chant. Per usual, I had written the words on newsprint and pinned them to the bulletin board. We talked through the song before hearing it for the first time, going over the pronunciation of unfamiliar words and the meaning behind the song. Satisfied that enough background had been covered, I cued the music and listened for their participation—those students who came with their parents to church that morning.
My students. The only kids under the age of eighteen in attendance. My kids… the only two sitting as audience to my instruction, well three if you count Preacher Billy. And I thought to myself,
Why in the world am I doing this, Lord? What’s the point? They get all of this at home. Besides, they’re not really listening. Why am I working so hard during the week to prepare a lesson when the only kids that come are mine and, sometimes, an occasional few others? Where are the crowds of yesterday, the audiences of many… my Tuesday night girls, my Sunday morning “ancients”? Why so few? Remind me again why this is important because right now, it feels more like obligation rather than adulation.
Like I said, a moment or two. A thought or two. A question or five… all cradled up within a single pause, and it was all I could do to finish the lesson. A lesson (oddly enough) about a doubting disciple requiring the proof of nail-scarred hands and a few words about “seeing as believing but blessed are those people who’ve never seen yet still believe.” People like us, living 2000 years beyond Christ’s resurrection moment—a people who’ve never “seen” the physical flesh of Jesus but who are devoutly tied to the truth of that moment in history.
The class ended. The earth didn’t shake beneath anyone’s feet, and my family moved downstairs for corporate worship where slightly more gathered in the pews for the 11:00 AM service. And there was a big hurt in my heart… an ample ache for previous ministry seasons now seemingly hidden, buried beneath the burden of hopes dreamed but not yet realized.
Did I miss it, Lord, what you seemed to be saying to me a few years ago? Did we miss it, Lord, what you seemed to be saying to us a season back? Where am I, where are we headed with this? This is hard faith, Father. This has been a hard year for us. How can I keep hope alive when all around me seems to be giving way to despair?
I wish I could say that God’s peace entered immediately into my soul, but it didn’t. Questions of faith usually initiate a wrestling out of thoughts before the Father prior to a peaceful conclusion being reached. This was the reality for most of my remaining Sunday. Wrestling. Struggling. Being mad and being sad. Feeling down and giving up. Wishing for more; expecting less. Thinking about yesterday; living in today. Wondering what’s the point of service if no one comes to be served?
And then I heard it… the point of my seemingly small, morning commitment.
Quiet at first, muffled behind wooden walls and closed doors. A strum of a pink guitar, and the voice of a pure angel named Amelia… trying her best make the out-of-tune strings fit the melody of a recently learned song.
“Hail Jesus you’re my King.
Your life frees me to sing.
I will praise you all my days.
You’re perfect in all your ways.

Hail, hail Lion of Judah.
How powerful you are.
Hail, hail Lion of Judah.
How wonderful you are.”
Her words weren’t perfectly matched with the correct ones, but her heart was… perfectly matched with the correct Word. She wanted to put some feet to her morning learnin’; in doing so, she put some feet to mine. She reminded me, again, of something Alicia Chole said a few seasons ago regarding all levels of Christian leadership:
“Focus on what is small not big; near not far.”
Small and near. My Sunday school class, my two kids, qualify. If they are the only ones who show up on Sunday mornings (per strong persuasion from their parents), then their hearts are ample, fertile soil to seed kingdom increase. When seen through those lenses, my teaching becomes less about mass production and more about investment into detail that will, eventually, harvest in larger proportion. I’ve got to believe this is what is at work here. Something I can’t see, but something that God sees. Something that is far beyond my current perception; something that roots at a higher level and that says,
No investment made on behalf of the kingdom is ever wasted. Every seed planted is a choice made for sacred increase.
I do believe this; I do fervently hold to the idea that our every interaction with another human being is an occasion for depositing the kindness, love, and truth of Jesus Christ. I try and adhere to this understanding, but there are times when reasoning gets cloudy. When God’s leading in the past—his thoughts regarding my “next”—seems slow in coming to fruition in my present.
So I step back today, again. I take a look around, breathe in the landscape of my life, and lean into the learnin’ of my Sunday. I hear the voice of a little girl in my mind; her name is Miss Amelia, but it might as well be Faith Elaine. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the two of us.
A girl and her pink guitar and a God who is willing to be “sung” despite strings that are out of tune and words that sometimes get mixed up.
The melody is still the same. The heart is just as pure. And the Lion of Judah? Just as powerful and wonderful as he’s always been. Indeed, a moment this past Sunday. Just a small one, but one big enough to linger throughout the rest of the day.
I pray for the rest of my life.
Some of life’s most important ministry moments aren’t meant for the stage, friends. Sometimes, they’re best taught and lived in the smallness of a Sunday morning song. Perhaps you understand. Keep to it… keep seeding and living your difficult obedience, and I will do the same. God is faithful to grow the holy rest of it. As always…
Peace for the journey,

32 Responses to a girl, her pink guitar, and a Sunday morning learnin’…

  1. Wonderful!! And I think ahead of how all of this will be remembered by your sweet daughter:)

  2. I know the song well — heard it in my head as I read those words. Thank you for a sweet memory of a little boy all of 3 who watched The Donut Man faithfully and sang along. Tonight we are attending a ROTC Awards Ceremony — he will be in uniform at 16. He's a good one and I counting on the LION OF JUDAH to keep him keeping to it!!
    Thank you, thank you, Elaine and Miss Amelia.
    HIS, Kathie

  3. I know this song, too! I also know that the time you spend with your two children on Sunday mornings is planting seeds of faith into their own hearts.

    They see your heart, dedication, and determination to teach them to grow strong in the ways of the Lord. Most of all, they see that they matter…that you are doing this for them, if for no one else. How better to help them understand just how important they are – each one – to God, and just how much he loves them?

    I wish I could have heart Amelia singing…what a neat, pink guitar!

  4. oh this was a blessing to me today. I would have loved to hear her play that cool pink guitar.

    Blessings my friend

  5. It is difficult to know why God does things the way He does…but just resting in the fact that He knows what He's doing helps! What a blessing to be able to minister to your children with song…and then to hear the fruits of your labor for Christ sung in the next room. The seeds that you are planting today will grow to produce fruit for their children and beyond.

    Blessings, Joan

  6. I've had those seemingly small and oh so near moments with my children and one on one with His big children. A touching post, Elaine…

  7. Oh Elaine what a sweet moment…I just know the day will come too when your children will look back and remember and cherish the time and effort you put into THEIR teaching. As the mother of adult children now, I look back and remember times like these. Different of course as we were never in the ministry, but similiar in that I would try and try to get these "truths" into their seemingly uninterested heads. And with some of them it was YEARS later before I saw that the seeds had indeed taken root. How I thank Him now that He never let me give up. If only 1 heart is touched it is all worth it. But to have it be the heart of your own daughter? Priceless. Blessings to you, Debbie

  8. I do not know that song, but I surely am familiar with your experience of long years, working hard in very small congregations, wondering if we had somehow misunderstood where we were supposed to be.

    God bless yyou for your honesty, but more so for your faithfulness when service is not glamorous, or even well-attended; but service when it is hard is service offered in love and humility.
    God bless you for your service – Marsha

  9. A moment indeed. How precious it must have been to hear your little sweetheart singing what she learned that morning.

    And the "keep to it" admonition? I needed that today, Elaine. And now I'm thanking God for giving me direction once again…

  10. What a perfect telling of another story Elaine… that Jesus would have faithfully fulfilled his mission died on the cross if Faith Elaine or Miss Amelia, or Sonja, had been the only ones he died for.

    I DO love Miss Amelia, and her precious little heart, and she does remind me of her mommy.

    xo

  11. I needed this. GOD knows I need this!

    I've had those kinds of Sundays. "Wrestling. Struggling. Being mad and being sad. Feeling down and giving up. Wishing for more; expecting less,"

    “Focus on what is small not big; near not far.” THIS I shall print on a card and carry with me.

    Wish we could talk.

  12. Wonderful, and oh so memorable!

    I heard a pastor once say: "With children, faith is often more caught than taught." I'm thinking Miss Amelia has caught it well.

    Thank you for sharing this one.

    Kathleen

  13. OH, Elaine. This made me cry. We need these little peeks into the the Kingdom to come sometimes, don't we? I am so glad our good God saw fit to give you that sweet encouragement. So glad.

    You have been on my mind today and I just needed to pop in and let you know. I am sending you so much love.

  14. I agree with the other comments. My testimony and ministry in life has always been under the radar that no one except my family and God would notice, but just as important as any one the limelight.

  15. Elaine, what a wonderful post! I am with you sister! Many, many times over the years it was me and my kids doing Sunday School together. I had the same thoughts, the same feelings. But I look back and think what a great message I was sending to my kids. Even though I had prepared for others, they were seeing that they worth the time and the effort I had put into the lesson. I could have packed everything up and went home, but we would stay and go through what I had prepared. You showed your kids that they mattered as well.
    Keep on keeping on my friend, there are rewards waiting for us!!

  16. Elaine~ I'm praying for you right now… asking God to encourage you and to bless you in a tangible way for your faithfulness to Him – where He has you at this moment.

    With love,
    Jennifer

  17. Hey Elaine
    I know your life has been full of changes in the last year. And I also know…I don't know the half of it! You have logged many miles down tough roads. I am not surprised you have asked the Lord a question or five about what you SEE at all. It happens to all of us at times. I posted this week about dusting off discouragement. I could relate to your 'feelings' in this post in a major way.

    'And there was a big hurt in my heart… an ample ache for previous ministry seasons now seemingly hidden, buried beneath the burden of hopes dreamed but not yet realized.
    Did I miss it, Lord, what you seemed to be saying to me a few years ago? Did we miss it, Lord, what you seemed to be saying to us a season back? Where am I, where are we headed with this? This is hard faith, Father'
    My thoughts as I read this were you are where you are supposed to be. He sees you. The Lord sees you Elaine. You are not forgotten. You gotta love how the Lord played the heart strings in Amelia to lift your eyes to Him in faith again. Early in my walk the Lord said to me,"I am Faithful and True to what I tell you. Trust me MORE(felt an emphasis on that word) I want MORE of your life." I keep those words tucked in my shell for days when I am not feelin' it or seein' it! Today as I left Bible study 'Keep On Truckin'' was on my 70's radio station. I started singing and dancing in the car knowing the song was a message to me. It made me smile. We will keep to it Elaine. MORE is ahead. I believe.
    (Sorry this comment has become a post.lol) B

  18. wifeforthejourney:

    We are both liviing a "small and near" kind of calling, you and I. Yet how profound to witness the faith of our own children growing. Your committment to teach Sunday school in our church, a place that has languished for want of committed leadership for so long, IS making a difference.

    You with your writing; Amelia with her guitar – God is at work in you both!

    Love you,
    Billy

  19. I started to comment yesterday, but was interupted….as always your words are an encouragement to me.
    I had read the links to the posts that you highlighted…I think one of the greatest benefits of blogging is to be able to go back and read our words from a previous season….sometimes we need the reminder, and even the accountability of having put our words 'out there'.
    btw…my little girl says we should have a pink guitar like that! lol…sounds good to me, and far better than the pink gun she wanted from Cabella's.

  20. It is a funny thing. I am struggling right now because I am being called to something bigger… and I would much rather stay with "small and near" because they are much more comfortable for me. (Although I always thought I wanted big and far.) Bigger –for me– connotes less one-on-one… more criticism… more misunderstandings… less chance for me to see true change in an individual that God has placed before me to invest and love on. Oh, well. Onward to obedience and a lot of prayer. Somehow hoping the bigger and further leads me back to the small and near, but knowing that fighting the Master of the Universe is not a battle I could ever win.

    Much love and prayers!

  21. What wonderful insight Elaine! Thank you for your tender heart. Your truth. You are amazing.

    Blessings,

    Jennifer

  22. I can so relate. I taught Sunday school many years ago. I tried to make it fun, but the administrator never seemed to approve. She wanted rules and tradition and I wanted glorious freedom in Christ. Still, in my case and yours…seeds are being planted, and the harvest will be glorious!

  23. Just thought I'd drop by to wish you a "Happy Mother's Day", and then this word…

    Another aha moment for me, thanks to YOU!

    I sure have missed you Elaine.

    "Some of life’s most important ministry moments aren’t meant for the stage, friends."

    I needed this more then you'll ever know.

    Enjoy your weekend my sweet friend.

  24. Dear Elaine
    I am glad to be reading this at this early morning hour – your words ring loud and clear and I agree wholeheartedly as I write this comment with teary eyes.

    Much of our life is lived not on the stage and in the limelight, but backstage, behind the scenes, behind the curtain.

    Happy Mother's Day Elaine.

    Love
    Lidj

  25. ღ˚ •。* ♥ ˚ ˚✰˚ ˛★* 。 ღ˛° 。* °♥ ˚ • ★ *˚ .ღ 。
    *˛˚ღ •˚ ˚…just sprinkling a little Love on your Blog˚ ✰* ★
    ˚. ★ *˛ ˚♥* ✰。˚ ˚ღ。* ˛˚ ♥ 。✰˚* ˚ ★ღ ˚ 。✰ •* ˚ ♥"
    Happy Mother's DAY
    God Heals us all

  26. Loving the small and near moments today! I hope your mother's day is filled with small, near and dear ….wishing you a most blessed Mother's day Elaine…and a blessed "every" day! Love that pink guitar!!! xo

  27. Happy Mother's Day, Elaine!

    I have been away for awhile and hope to soon catch up on life and friends in the bloggy world.

    This post speaks volumes to my heart. As one who has had some Sunday morning wrestling that has moved to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…I know well that ample ache for the familiar of what was. And yet, the music that is in the present carries more than a tune but the very sacredness of Him who sings to our very soul.

    This may not be the place (on so many levels) that you had dreamed yourself to be – however, I know that my life gathers a sacred pause each time I visit your blog. You deposit through your honest words a song of Truth and I leave here crooning much like Amelia – out of tune and mixed up words but the same melody.

    It is a victory chant!
    All is grace, isn't it?!
    Denise

  28. Oh what seasons that shall come, some bringing more ebb than flow. I know seasons like this and then asking God if I missed something. Praying that your heart continues to seek Him when the questions are there. You do this so well, and then open the windows of your heart for me to learn and grow from. Thanks so much. I needed this, this week. Blessings, elizabeth

  29. hey everybody this is Amelia and I thank you for everyone of your comments and it just touched my heart that you think I am a sweet little girl.

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