On my way home from my daughter’s this afternoon I experienced a new (at least new for me) way of praying. I was listening to the song “Bring Him Home” from the musical Les Mis, written by Claude-Michel Schonberg. This song has always spoken to me, and for some reason, I felt pulled to play the song over and over on my 30 minute ride. Since I was alone in the car I felt free to sing along (often quite loudly, but I had the windows closed, so I wasn’t worried about torturing anyone around me with my singing!) and today, I heard in the words of the song words to an unspoken prayer of my heart.
In my church, we are dealing with the effects of too few people to do too many jobs. And whether this is an effect of the falling numbers of families with children and youth, or the cause, our Christian Education program is struggling. This is certainly not because of a lack of effort on the part of a group of dedicated volunteers. Their perseverance and willingness to give their hearts and time for the children and youth is truly a blessing. But we seem to be at a crossroads, and this is the basis of that unspoken prayer. Where, and how, are we to go? What am I, as an individual, being called to do with my God-given gifts?
I was about halfway home when I realized that I was praying with/through the song. And as I continued to listen to “Bring Him Home”, I heard the answer to at least part of my prayer. When I take the song and apply it to all the children and youth of my church, rather than just the young man Marius that Jean Valjean is singing about, I hear the direction I am seeking.
I’d like to share what I heard through the simple yet powerful words of Claude-Michel Schonberg…
“God on high, hear my prayer. In my need, You have always been there.”
I couldn’t agree more. God has always been there for me, even when I didn’t know I needed God.
“He is young, he’s afraid…”
Even with my years, and the wisdom I’ve gained from many struggles, there are times when I am afraid because of things going on in our world today. I can only imagine how much harder it is for the children and youth.
“Let him rest, heaven blessed. Bring him home…”
How will the children know that God is their fortress, their hiding place in times of trouble, if no one will tell them? How can they begin to understand the blessing of having Jesus as their close, personal friend and the Holy Spirit as their constant companion and guide, if no one shares their own experiences with them? And if they don’t know those things, how can they rest, how can they come home?
“The summers die, one by one. How soon they fly, on and on. And I am old, and will be gone.”
There is no way to know how long I, or any of us, have on this earth. Time passes so quickly, each day that I hesitate to speak of my love of God, the joy and blessing I receive from my friendship with Jesus, the security and peace from the Holy Spirit, could be one less day for the children and youth to know that joy and blessing.
“You can take, You can give, let him be, let him live. If I die, let me die, let him live…”
If giving more of my time can help the children and youth come to know God, can help them understand more fully that they are truly beloved children of God, then let me die. Die to the time I spend on the computer or waste watching TV. Let me die, so that they can live. Live in true relationship with God.
“Bring him home, bring him home…”
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14). Not standing in their way isn’t enough. I, no, all of us that know and love God, need to do our part to share God with the children in our lives. Because that is the only way we can bring them home, home to God.