July 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 12
And The Answer Is
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
When my sons were growing up, I enrolled them in vacation Bible school and I always signed up to teach. As they outgrew Bible school, I transferred my teaching skills to adult literacy programs. But when I heard the plea that more VBS teachers were needed, I called in and added my name to the roster. I certainly had the experience, and besides, it would be fun to be with children again. After I was assigned a class of eleven three-year-olds, I attended the appropriate workshops. I spent a week making elaborate lesson plans and constructing the visual props provided by the leader's book, incorporating the church's "Climbing Faith Mountain" theme.
The night before vacation Bible school began, I prayed, "Dear God, thank you for the opportunity to teach these little ones about you. With this prayer, I'm ready."
Well, I thought I was ready.
It had been many years since I'd stood in front of a group of little ones, so imagine my surprise to rediscover that they ran everywhere, leaping and laughing, brightly colored sandals slap-slapping against summer-tanned heels. With our combined efforts, my teen helper and I managed to corral their energies and herd their attention to the story mat.
We sat in a lopsided circle, busy hands folded and nestled in laps. Our first story-lesson up Faith Mountain was one of obedience. I told of God's request for Abraham to move his family and livestock to a new place. We stood and I led my group from one side of the room to the other, "baaing" and "mooing" in imitation of Abraham's sheep and cows as we trudged along.
Concrete examples will reinforce what I've taught them, I thought and mentally patted myself on the back.
We settled back into our circle. "Abraham had the faith to obey God's word," I said as I ended our story.
At the close of the morning, I asked, "Who had the faith to move his family and livestock?"
"God!" eleven cheerful voices shouted. I smiled and shook my head no. "Abraham."
"Abraham," parroted the serious, elfin chorus.
Our story for the next day, "Joseph and His Many-Colored Coat," was about trust. I explained that when Joseph was taken from his family and found himself in prison, God still watched after and protected him.
At the end of the second morning, I gathered my charges and asked, AWho trusted and prayed for his safety and protection while he was away from his father and brothers?"
"God!" they sang loudly.
Again I shook my head. "Repeat after me," I said. "Joseph."
"Joseph." They were just a little out of unison.
Day three brought us a story-lesson of strength. "God told Joshua to lead the Israelites around the walls of Jericho and blow their trumpets, and the walls carne tumbling down." We marched like little infantrymen around and around the mat. We stopped, opened our mouths wide and shouted out trumpet-like sounds, and then collapsed into a large heap onto the floor. Bodies rolled and legs kicked in jubilation.
I righted myself and studied each sweaty face. "Who was strong enough to make the walls of Jericho fall down?"
"God!" They shrieked and raised miniature fists above their heads.
I stood and retrieved the picture of the trembling walls. My finger singled out a man with a trumpet. AJoshua!" I said loudly.
Urchin faces lifted upward. "Joshua!"
For Thursday I built an elaborate pallet, complete with a blanket and a little boy puppet, to help tell the story of Samuel. Squeals erupted and hands clapped as they watched the boy spring up and down to answer God's voice booming out Samuel's name.
"Samuel was a good listener." I narrowed my eyes and took in each stare. "God wants us all to be good listeners."
We ended yet another morning. I swallowed hard and ventured, "Who was a good listener this morning?"
"God!" Their voices bounced off the walls of the room.
My heart sank. "Sam-u-el," I said, enunciating each syllable.
Eleven pouty mouths formed the name "Sam-u-el."
On the final morning of vacation Bible school, I doubted that I'd taught my group anything as we assembled for our last story-lesson.
"God loves and cares for us so much that He sent His son Jesus to teach us about that love. And even though Jesus went to heaven, He'll be back one day." I paused and finished with a smile. "In the meantime, remember, God is the answer to our questions in life."
What? What was that I'd said? "God" is the answer? Hmmm. Maybe my three-year-olds hadn't been giving me the wrong answers all week after all. . . . Maybe I'd been asking the wrong questions.
I began anew. 'Who did Abraham obey when he was asked to move?"
"God!" they yelled.
'Who did Joseph trust when he was in prison?"
"Who gave Joshua the strength to make the walls of Jericho fall down?"
"And who spoke to Samuel?"
Finally, I said, "Jesus is the Son of-"
"God!" we said together.
The three-year-olds knew all along the response that the seasoned teacher had forgotten. Who is the answer to all our questions?
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