It was a book I threw together.
Something quick for Sunday School to teach the lesson in a unique way.
Nothing unusual there. My students are always saying, “You never know what’ll happen in Mrs. Daghfal’s class.”
There was the day I made them take off their shoes before they came in the room. (We were studying Moses and the burning bush. [Exodus 3])
The day they came in to find it pitch black with only a burning candelabra to the left, a bowl of perfume in the center, a loaf of bread to the right, and a giant curtain blocking something behind it. (The layout of the Tabernacle and Temple. Yes, at the end of the lesson, the Holy of Holies sheet ripped from top to bottom. [Matthew 27:45-54])
The day I literally broke the Ten Commandments—the stones, not the actual commandments. (Made with plaster of paris. Much easier to carve than real stone slabs. And cheaper if you’re going to break them.) [Exodus 32:19]
The day they had to sit on top of the tables, and, the next week, under them.
And of course the day I threw the tables upside down. (You guessed it. Jesus cleaning the temple.) [John 2:13-16]
In each case, I was trying to make the stories come to life. Something to remember the point. Something to drive the lesson home.
It’s been fun to see how it’s worked. One student kept a piece of those broken Ten Commandment stones by her bed for ten years!
Has every lesson gone to plan? No.
Once I set up a tent to represent the tomb on Easter morning. The students walked in to find grave clothes (toilet paper) wrapped in the form of a body—with no body there, of course. The head wrap was rolled up and placed off to the side.
All a depiction of the morning Peter and John came in to find the empty tomb. Jesus had risen! [John 20:6-7]
The next week I asked the students what happened in the previous lesson, and one student piped up, “Someone took off Jesus’ head.”
And one year, students started fighting for those pieces of the Ten Commandments.
*Two-handed Face palm.
So I spend a lot of time in prayer each week, asking that my lessons make sense, that students grasp the meaning of the stories.
I don’t want them to just remember Mrs. Daghfal was a fun teacher. I want them to remember who God is and what He has done. I pray He uses what I do in that class to show them His truth—In such a way that they can recall it sometime down the future when they need it.
But, as happens to most teachers, often the greatest learning happens in my own heart.
And such was the case with that book that I threw together.
We were studying God’s unchangeableness. His enduring nature. The fact that He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8]
I was supposed to show pictures of myself as I’ve changed over the years, and, being a writer, I decided, why not make a picture book. (If you know me, that doesn’t surprise you. *wink*)
So I started grabbing pics—from my childhood, from adulthood, dressed up, casual, costumed, and just every-day.
Goodness I can look different.
The pictures make me laugh as I can apparently be quite the goofball.
But as I saw me in all my stages—even stages where I really wasn’t sure who I was at all—it was such a comfort to know that God was God through it all. HE hadn’t changed. And won’t change.
He was—and is—and is to come, the SAME.
All loving, all knowing, all present, all just, all merciful, all grace, Almighty…
Sometimes it might seem like He’s changed because we try to fit Him into our box. We decide what we think He should do, creating Him in our image instead of His creating us in His.
It doesn’t work.
And why would I want it to, when, from one day to the next, I can change so drastically?
Fickle. Unable to make decisions. One moment something is great; the next, I’m bored. At night before I go to bed, something’s perfectly brilliant, but in the morning, it’s silly.
Perspective? Completely different at the height of a child versus that of a grown woman. I imagine it will change again as my years stretch out but my body doesn’t.
And if I’m not wearing my contacts, I can’t see anything at all.
Yet He sees the beginning from the end, knows inside from out, and never needs to sleep on something to decide.
While I may not fully understand how all His characteristics fit together, the truth is the same.
He doesn’t change.
Comforting, isn’t it?
I don’t have to worry that one day He’ll like me and the next day He won’t. That someday He’ll want cooler friends. Or take off an unexpected mask.
Instead, He is steadfast, true, faithful. He remains the same.
I know—change for us as humans isn’t all bad. I don’t want to be the same person I was in middle school. I hope that through the years, I’ve grown, matured, that He has grown in me that fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
It’s where my signature tagline comes from: Truly loved as I am but changed daily by His grace.
But God doesn’t need to change. He’s perfect as He is.
Hence, His name, YHWH: The great “I AM.”
A truth all the more driven home as I look through these pictures of the ever-changing me.