Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 16, 2012

What I Learned in Sunday School

I never cease to be amazed at the wonder of God’s love and care – or the variety of ways He uses to express it. Yesterday in Sunday School was no exception.

The Sunday School lesson for Kindergartners was the story of how God cared for Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-16). Boys and girls heard how God took care of Elijah during several years of drought. God told Elijah to stay by the Brook Cherith and drink water from the brook. He also told Elijah that He would send ravens to bring him meat and bread. Eventually, the brook dried up and God sent Elijah to a nearby town to a widow who would provide for him. However, when Elijah asked the woman for a morsel of bread, she replied…“‘As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die'” (1 Kings 17:12). Elijah encouraged the woman and told her to go ahead and first prepare a small cake for him, and then some for herself and her son. Elijah explained: “‘For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth'” (1 Kings 17:13). The Scriptures continue to tell us that neither the bin of flour nor the oil ran out just as Elijah had said.

I was excited as a I prepared for this lesson. For one of our activities, we were going to make homemade playdough and talk about the Bible story. As kids measured and poured flour and oil into the pan, we could talk about the widow’s flour and oil and how God supplied what she needed each day. The activity provided a wonderful opportunity to talk about the Bible story and how God gives us what we need. As the kids eagerly gathered around the table, I began to set out the ingredients I had brought from home. Almost immediately, I had a sickening feeling as I pulled out the tub of flour that was completely wet on the bottom with oil! Looking into the bag, my fears were confirmed. Layered across the bottom of the bag was a thick, greasy layer of oil. I knew that no oil meant no playdough.

With much regret, I explained that we wouldn’t be able to make playdough today – maybe next week. Although sad, the kindergartners actually took it remarkably well. “Can we play with the old pumpkin pie playdough?” one child asked. So as I mopped up my sticky, oily mess, the other teachers and kids enjoyed the old playdough which thankfully was still okay to use.

I admit that my first thought was why. Why did this have to happen? I was prepared, ready – why, why, why! And then a small voice reminded me – It happened because you failed to put the oil in a properly sealed container. I had no one to blame but myself. But God – oh, how I love those two words – But God was ready and waiting to come to my aid. I realized in those few hectic moments something I came hoping to teach my children. God knows what I need and He cares for me.

Our morning had seemed rushed and hectic, but with no playdough to make, things became more relaxed and less rushed. More than once I found an opportunity to relate something the kids were doing to the Bible story or to remind them that God knows what they need and takes care of them. We also had more time for group time which led to some special sweet moments. One little girl asked us to pray for a friend whose mother had died. Another child began to ask questions about things that God can do to which we ultimately agreed that God can do anything. Our discussions even led us to wonder what heaven will be like and the realization that we will really get to see Jesus there!

Now as to how a lesson on Elijah ended up in a discussion on heaven, I really can’t explain. But as each child left Sunday School with a smile on his or her face (even without making playdough) and as I thought about what happened that morning, I knew without a doubt that God had been there. He didn’t show up exactly the way I had planned, but He was there none the less. He broke through my carefully laid plans to reveal Himself to the kids in ways they were ready to understand. They left knowing that God is great and can do anything, and that He cares for them and gives them the things they need.

As for me, I left a little more humbly than I had arrived. God had gently reminded me that yes I should plan and prepare, but what is accomplished doesn’t depend on me. It depends on God. As I take all my efforts and surrender them to Him, He can work through them all – my mess-ups and mistakes, included – to reveal Himself in both ways I may have planned and in ways I may never understand. Why? Because He is God! He is great and He can do anything. He knows what I need better than I know myself. And He loves and cares for me!

Next week I’ve promised that we’ll try to make playdough again. I’m going to make sure that I put the oil in a properly sealed container and I hope it works out. But if not, I know that God will have something even better in store!

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