a few years ago, i answered a call to teach in Children's Ministry on saturday nights. i was placed in the Clown Fish class (2-3 year olds). there were nights of utter chaos. nights of being late to Big Group because of dirty diapers and potty training. nights of a teacher learning about balance. learning patience. there were nights when i left feeling like i was nothing more than a babysitter with a well-thought-out lesson plan. nights i questioned whether anything i read, anything i said, any craft i glued/stapled/stickered was sinking in.
i doubted, I questioned, i worried.
but i loved, laughed, danced, sang, and hugged, too. a lot.
so at the end of the year, i asked to be promoted with that crazy crew. we moved on to Sea Turtles. and then on to Kiwis.
at times it felt those years were much of the same – only we were all just a year or two older and wiser. but there was much, much more going on: i watched the kids learn to write their names, to use scissors and the stapler, to peel and stick their own stickers. (oh, the joy!) i watched them come to know one another by name and to learn my name. i found myself partnering with their parents in various areas. community was forming right before our eyes.
and now we are Blue Jays.
now they can write more than just their names. they can read. they enthusiastically volunteer to read or recite the memory verse each week. and they actually remember the passages now. they ask questions. they want to understand and want know more. i am seeing them wrestle with and come to love the Word of God.
admittedly, sometimes we're still late to Big Group, but not because of dirty diapers or potty training, like the old days. now it's because the students themselves are reading the Bible story (which takes a little bit longer than when I do.) or because we are wrapped up in a prayer circle, thanking God for the blessings in our lives or confessing our sins. Children talking to God. a good reason to be late.
this past November, we were teaching a unit about the prophets. one Saturday night, my group of five and six year olds were listening to me tell the story of Isaiah. they heard me read,
Then God said from heaven, “Who will take a message to the people?” And Isaiah, who had seen that God was the greatest Holy King said, “Here I am. Send me." It’s like he raised his hand and said, “God, please pick me.” [Isaiah 6:8]
i stopped speaking. i silently re-read those words. i've seen them many times before, but this time, there was a weight to them i'd never felt before.
we've all been asked the same question. we've all been called to take a message to the people. and those of us in Grace’s Children’s Ministry have all raised our hands and said, "here i am. send me." and have committed to taking The Message to the youngest of His people.
and we can rest assured that it is, indeed, sinking in.