Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 9, 2012

Play Dough and Possibilities

One of our favorite activities in preschool Sunday School is playing with the play dough. We roll it, pat it out, and use cookie cutters to cut it into various shapes. We press it into small plastic pots and pans and pretend to cook and serve it. But one of our consistently most favorite activities with the play dough is to form it into a familiar food, animal, or other item for everyone else to guess. We make hot dogs, tacos, bird nests, volcanoes, and of course, snakes and worms.

One particular Sunday, however, one little fellow was a little out of sorts. As the kids began to play this familiar guessing game, he joined in, but not in an acceptable way. He half-heartedly shaped his play dough into a formless, abstract shape and waited for the other kids to guess. When everyone finally gave up trying to guess, he proudly asserted that he had created diarrhea. After a couple more similar and equally distasteful creations, I cautioned the little fellow about his creations and his comments and reminded him that they were not appropriate in Sunday School.

Almost immediately, he went to work on his next creation. I must say that as he worked and as I watched, I was practically certain that he was ignoring what I had told him and that he was actually making something obscene. I cringed as the kids began to innocently guess what he had made. When everyone finally gave up, I held my breath as I waited for him to announce what he had made. I was already rehearsing in my mind what I should say and how I should handle the situation. But as I nervously watched and waited, the little fellow grinned from ear to ear over his work of art and proudly announced that he had made a pear.

A pear! Why, of course! I could see it. As relief flooded my soul, I praised his pear. It was one of the prettiest pears that I had ever seen!

As I thought about this later, I realized that I hadn’t seen the pear because I was looking for something else. Because the little fellow was creating questionable and unacceptable items, I was looking for more of the same. And then I remembered Paul and Timothy’s advice to the Philippians: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is an virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8-9). In other words, if I keep my mind in the gutter, that is what I’m going to see and think about, but if I concentrate on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and worthy of praise, then those kinds of things will be on my mind and heart.

Jesus modeled this so well. Repeatedly, He looked beyond what was apparent and perhaps not too lovely, to the beauty that could be. Jesus saw more in Matthew than the dishonesty he exhibited as a tax collector (Matthew 9:9-13). Instead of concentrating on the sin of the woman He met at the well, He introduced her to the Messiah (John 4:5-26). Jesus looked beyond Peter’s impetuousness, Thomas’ doubt, and Martha’s busyness to the true followers they could become. Over and again, Jesus met people where they were and saw what they could become. He repeatedly showed love and compassion, offered forgiveness, and restored men and women who were broken and downtrodden.

I am so thankful that Jesus looked beyond the mess I was to what I could be in Him. And I’m also thankful that He continues to offer His love and compassion, His mercy and forgiveness, to help me be more of what He wants me to be and less of what I am. I’m glad that unlike me with my young friend, Jesus doesn’t look at the bad things I do and expect more of the same. Instead, He sees what I can become in Him as He diligently works in my life. And oh how I hope that as He looks at me, that He can smile and rejoice at what He sees – just as I did over that play dough pear.

 

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