On Sunday nights, I listen to God with children between the ages of 2 and 12. I am constantly in awe and get choked up by the depth the children take us during our discussion and work. We are finishing our work concerning the death and resurrection of Christ. It's one of my favorite times of the church year, because the material is so very rich.
With the older children, I've began to ask these questions for the end of the year:
1. "What is your passion? What stirs your heart into action on behalf of the Gospel?
Widows, orphans, poverty, care of the earth, children who have been hurt or scared, animals? Do you like to cook, garden, clean, or make things?"
2. "How can YOU make a difference?"
In order to make this a real experience, we must spend time listening to God for our call as individuals and a group. Last week, I sought the Lord for more ideas on how to do this well. He brought his own 40 days of fasting and prayer to me as a precedent for the children. It was the beginning of his own ministry. He reminded me that, "Yes, I was tempted, but in that 40 days, God gave me serious direction for my teaching." So, I looked up the teachings which immediately followed. He was tempted, walked on water, and then gathered the crowds for...ready...
The Sermon on the Mount.
Oh, my perfect work to study with the children on this project of "How can I make a difference?"
I thankfully had asked for binders to create prayer journals before Easter, and then promptly forgot about them after being swept away with the flood of Easter preparations and celebration. I pulled those journals out and cut paper to fit for the work last Sunday evening.
The older students and I opened our Bibles to the 40 days in the desert and discussed what else may have happened during those 40 days of prayer besides the temptation. My ten year old scholar announced, "It must have been very quiet in the desert. Jesus probably had a lot of time hearing to his Dad."
So I asked, "What do you suppose he and his dad talked about?"
He thought for a long time and said, "Maybe God told Jesus the things He'd like him to say and do next." BINGO. This child went right where the Spirit told me to lead.
"Let's look at the next time Jesus spoke to a crowd together." I requested, and we turned to the Beatitudes. "We'll talk about three of these and then we'll pick one to write in our prayer journals."
The discussion moved beautifully. "Who are the poor in spirit?" I asked.
Ten year old scholar proclaimed, "The ones who have great trouble and problems but still turn to God."
The meditation on the next two beatitudes were just as meaningful. after reading "Blessed are the meek.", he mentioned how he had protected a toddler from falling off a slide when others behind him were rough and pushing for the toddler to hurry. He had used his strength help someone small and weak just like Jesus.
When it was time for silence, I immediately wrote "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." in my journal as it applies to this season in my life. Then I moved on to attend the young children.
Out of the corner of my eye, I observed the ten year old scholar take at least ten minutes to choose which of the three Beatitudes to write. He wanted to hear from God which one specifically should go in his journal. He took a painstakingly long time to write "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs it the kingdom of heaven." in cursive. I know that writing is a chore for this child. The work had the quality of a gift to his Father in heaven given from the bottom of his heart.
I'll be there Sunday nights again until summer break. I wonder what difference we will make together? Another student wants to give to orphans, because she was enamored with the movie Annie. I think that is a marvelous starting point. Don't you?
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