A few years ago, my Pastor approached me and asked if I would fill the spot of Children’s Sunday School teacher. Since I spent all day every day with my two young children, the thought of having to prepare, teach, and care for others’ children regularly sounded unpleasant. Especially because I don’t feel particularly inclined towards young children. Love them, yes. But please don’t put me in a room full of the creatures of chaos. In fact, after thinking it over a day, I called my Pastor and asked if he could find someone else because I didn’t think I was the right fit for the position.
Immediately after I hung up, I felt regret. Our Pastor said he had a few other people he could ask if I couldn’t do it. But the Holy Spirit didn’t let me off the hook. He brought to mind 2 Corinthians 12:10, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” It was clear. The Lord wanted me to step up and be the Sunday School teacher. And where I felt unskilled, He would shine through. Humbly I approached my Pastor and affirmed I would indeed teach.
Truth be told, I’m not the first one who was given an assignment that I didn’t want and felt unqualified to complete. Jonah spoke messages from God to the corrupt king of Israel, Jeroboam. Obviously, Israel needed him, but amidst all the turmoil of God’s chosen people, God sent Jonah to go to Nineveh– an evil foreign city. Jonah hopped on a ship and sailed in the opposite direction. Like me, he felt remorse for his disobedience. When a storm started to batter the ship, the sailors learned it was Jonah’s fault. Jonah had them toss him overboard and God stop the storm. God then sent a giant fish to swallow him up, and it spat him back on land towards Nineveh.
From the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed and confessed to his failure. “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, into your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:7). Not only had he initially not wanted to, now he also was unworthy to carry out his assignment. Yet still the Lord called him to go to Nineveh. So he obeyed.
Surprise! The whole city listened to Jonah’s message and repented before the Lord. They were saved from the coming destruction that God had planned for them. Because the Lord assigned him to a task, Jonah was overwhelmingly successful in it. And because the Lord assigned me to the task of being the Sunday School teacher, I was successful in that.
But just because one is called to accomplish a task doesn’t mean that it will be easy. I spent time preparing the lessons and gathering supplies. That was the easier part. After teaching for the hour, I would sit in the classroom alone for about fifteen minutes to give myself time to decompress and breathe. I felt fulfilled, but wholly drained. Not all things that fulfill us give us energy. But when we are drained from our assignments, we can rest knowing that, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26).
As the new year quickly approaches, God will ask us to accomplish tasks that we don’t feel capable of completing nor will we necessarily want to. But let’s “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). We choose to love Him when we say “Yes” to Him.
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”