The young group of children sat at my feet. I tried to gather them all around as a mother hen would gather her chicks. Most of the time it worked. “Boys and girls, it is time for our Bible story” I said. One little boy decided that putting the final touches on his tower of blocks was much more important than listening to me, so he ignored the request. The other six children put their things away, but Ryan chose to continue his project.
“Oh, look, I am so proud of the way Chad has put his things away and come to the circle.” I said (as all good teachers have been trained to say). This didn’t get Ryan’s attention. He continued on with his mission. “Sarah, thank you for listening to me and putting your things away in order to come to the circle.” The words fell flat again. Ryan did seem proud of Ryan and Sarah, but no change in his behavior.
I was ready to present the story, but one place remained empty. “Ryan, you need to stop what you are doing and come to the story circle.” “But I can’t stop now, this is too important.” he said. “Ryan, it is time to stop. Now.” I whispered as I gave him the most stern look I could muster.
His friend Chad had grown a bit concerned and got up and went over to his little friend. I heard some whispering, and thinking Chad had talked Ryan into joining the group, much to my dismay….Chad began to help Ryan with the building! I was losing them fast! “Boys, I must insist that you stop what you are doing and come over here now.”
I stood up and headed the direction of the important engineering job. The boys looked at one another and decided they had better head to the group. Both looked horribly rejected and defeated. “Boys, when I say it is time for the story, you know that you are to clean up and join the group. You have always done that before, you must always listen.” I said.
“We were listening” Ryan replied. “And how’s that”? I was so perplexed. “Well”, Ryan began. “Yesterday you said that Jesus needed our temple to live in and since he is invited to story time every day in your prayers, I thought we needed to build him that temple now! Chad was helping me ‘fore Jesus got here and it was too late! And not we’re not done and it is too late. Jesus will be so sad.” The tear rolled down his little cheek.
Ah children. A group of four year olds will tell the truth every time. And if they don’t tell the truth exactly, their friends will! They will most certainly share what happened at the dinner table between mommy and daddy when daddy forgot to take out the trash.
Is it a wonder that Jesus told us to come as little children? “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18:1-4
I can see it now. Jesus was trying to get his disciples to understand why they came. I wonder if he was a tad bit tired of having to explain things over and over to these guys? Finally, when the pride of who was best came forward as a question, Jesus used humility, faith and the trust of a little child to show them!
Children do not complicate things. They simply tell it like it is…yet in innocence. They trust, they are direct and according to Jesus…they are an example to follow. So let’s watch those four year olds…who knows, we might get caught up in some simple building!
Just so you know, we all went over after story time to help Ryan finish his temple. I dealt with the “temple” issue the next day, and the next day, and the next day…..
IN CHRIST ALONE
*google image, NIV Bible*