From the Lisa writes… archives, circa September, 2007…
We attended a large church in my youth-group years. These were the days of departments, comprised of a department leader and six to eight Sunday school classes and corresponding teachers. We would have assembly, aka large group time, then split into our assigned classes (I guess today the proper terminology would be “small groups”). To get an idea of the size of my church’s youth group, each grade was its own department, and some years seventh and eighth each had two departments apiece.
When we gathered for assembly, the boys sat on one side of the room, girls on the other (it wouldn’t be until eleventh grade before we dared intermingle). I cannot remember his name, but our department head for the ninth grade Sunday school would always introduce that week’s lesson with a real life story that happened to him that very week that just so happened to perfectly illustrate the point of the lesson that week. We would often marvel at his ability to tie in some everyday circumstance of his everyday life to the lesson. In truth, we were just a little cynical that the perfect event would happen every single week. We would even wonder just how he would segue into the key points, sometimes making it a joke between us.
My ninth grade Sunday school teacher was a big former University of Texas football player named Malcom. He spouted Scripture effortlessly, one of his favorite being “what a man sows, so shall he reap.” As I think on it, especially now as the mom of an up and coming ninth grader, it was an excellent word for young high schoolers like ourselves.
Malcom wanted to teach us to hide God’s Word in our hearts through the discipline of Scripture memory. He assigned us a verse to memorize each week, and each Sunday as we gathered in our small classroom, we would copy the verse from memory into individual notebooks. Whoever memorized the most verses by the end of the year was promised a nice dinner in a nice restaurant with a chosen “other.” Not to brag or anything, but eventually I was the only one doing any memorizing (yes, a brown noser even then). The Scripture memory challenge soon fizzled and no dinner awarded.
But I will never forget the lesson Malcom taught me; yes with the verses he had us memorize, and certainly with the warning that we will reap what we sow, but most importantly through his love of the Word of God and his desire to encourage that same love in the hearts of silly, immature teenagers.
I have no idea where Malcom is now, nor our department head. I do know this: their legacy lives on today, in me. I may have laughed then at the perfectly coincidental parallel between the events of a week and the key points of a specific Sunday school lesson, but today I know that God’s Word is alive and active and speaks to my everyday life if I will only listen and heed. I may have memorized a list of verses then in order to gain my teacher’s approval or receive a nice dinner, but today I know Malcom’s passion for God’s Word within me, and his desire for others to know that same passion is mine as well.
Oh, the faithfulness of our God! He planted seeds even when I was too young and foolish to know it. He has watered; He has reaped; He is worthy of praise! And when this life is no more, when we are gathered before the Throne in the Presence of the One worthy of all glory and honor and praise, I hope for opportunity to express my gratitude to two men who served the Lord Jesus in what was no doubt a thankless and sometimes frustrating place of service. I am thankful they did not grow weary and give up, but trusted the Lord of the Harvest, seeking only His glory and His alone…