A Lesson Learned from the Little People - A Repost

This repost from November 2008 is for my friend Sarah:

Pictured here are some of the Playmobil people that we have around our home. Actually, they are a few of very many Playmobil items that we have acquired over the years because, if for no other reason, I think they're just so much fun. Right now most of these figures are in two huge plastic containers in the garage waiting for their distribution after I sell them on eBay.

However, some of them will make the long cross-country journey on the moving truck because 1)I think they're so much fun, and 2)they're perfect visual aides when I tell stories to kids.

It was not long ago when I learned an important lesson while using these to teach. Here in Morgantown we have begun a Sunday School curriculum based on a rotating system. We have six or seven classrooms set up in different themes, and each children's' class goes to a different class each week to learn a different aspect of the current Bible story/theme. As a Bible school teacher, I think this is great, because you get to do the same thing four weeks in a row, which makes preparation a breeze. Of course, you do have to adjust to the differing age levels each week, but it still is much easier than preparing a new lesson for each week.

During the summer quarter, I was teaching in the story tent, which is a real tent set up in one of the rooms. My job the last month of the quarter was to tell the story of the Israelites in exodus from Egypt. So I brought the Playmobil guys that are dressed in Bible-type clothes, lots of animals, and all the soldiers I could find. As I told the story, all of the Israelites traipsed through the desert, the Egyptians soldiers got washed away in the Red Sea, then of course the wandering Israelites complained and complained. The little Playmobil people would throw up their little plastic hands and wail and whine and throw themselves on the ground and exclaim in their most dramatic voices, "Just why did you even take us out of Egypt? You brought us out here, and we're all going to die!" I would have all the little listeners chime in with their best complaining voices and it was all very effective.

The good thing about doing this same story four times is that you get more and more comfortable with the story, and perhaps more and more insightful. On the fourth Sunday it occurred to me that the God was working with the Israelites on their obvious memory problem. They would get something good from God, jump around and sing happy songs, and just a short time later when they were faced with another issue they would completely forget God's ability to help and complain again. This cycle would go on and on. Moses and the others would build their altars and stack their stones to remind the people that yes, God can provide, but that didn't work. God even worked on prolonging their memory by making them trust in him by not gathering more manna than they needed for one day, but even with this daily reminder they would forget again.

So I was telling the kids in each example of their forgetfulness that God wants us to remember how he took care of us, and remember that he can take care of us again, and to try and not suffer from short-term God-memory.

Of course it wasn't a coincidence that this was about the time that we were deciding whether to move to Fresno or not. Jason had been offered the job, and we were weighing our options, and it was just a few minutes after this lesson that I was sitting in "big church" thinking over whether we really wanted to move or not. Thoughts were bouncing around in my head, such as "But what about moving the boys? Will they be able to make friends quickly?", and "I don't really want to leave my friends here, either", and "It's so far away from our families - won't it make it harder to be close to them?", and even "But it's so hot in Fresno."

Perhaps I glanced down at my Playmobil visual aides in my bag beside me, because it suddenly hit me that I was just exactly like the Israelites. I was seriously suffering from a severe case of faulty God-memory. Because the truth is, God has brought us through some big trials, and provided us with some huge blessings in the past, and of course he can do it again. It made me want to make my own "stack of stones" of sorts - some kind of visual testimony of the specific ways that God blessed us in Prague, and again in Morgantown, to actively remind us that God will indeed take care of us again. (I'm working on that project - in my head, at least.) At that moment, I suddenly found myself at peace about moving to Fresno.

Even now as I find myself worrying that our house won't sell, and perhaps we won't be able to buy a house quickly in Fresno, and the economy is so bad, I picture myself as one of those little plastic people throwing up my plastic hands and wailing about how much better it was in Egypt.

And then I work on my God-memory a little bit more, as of course He wants me to do.

Sarah  – (25 December 2010 at 13:05)  

I do love that -- yes, I would LOVE a "stack of stones" myself (though, of course, something a little easier to pack and transport when the Lord calls you to "GO!")... and I do love that God reminds us of His faithfulness just when we need to hear it the most.

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