I had the privledge of being with our four to six year old children’s church group this week. I forgot how much the teach me in the moment, such profound truth wrapped in the simple view of a child. I also remember how much I can enjoy the children, even when I enter feeling burnt out and frazzled. I often forget that children bring a fresh break from my normal routine and tend to reenergize me when I am running on empty.
We were learning about the story of David and Goliath found in I Samuel 17.
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
After the lesson and all that goes into class time, I planned a game to bring home the story. I wanted something the children would remember. The object of the game was to get the stone in the cup that was over nine feet away. Reminding them David’s stone had to reach Goliath in the right spot to kill him.
Each of the children took a turn being “David.” As you can imagine, none of them was successful with the single stone. Although David had five, it only took one. After a few rounds, they tired of trying. They decided it was impossible. Then they quickly declared David was successful because of God; this was a wonderful point I wasn’t even trying to make. I reminded them the Bible tells us that with God nothing is impossible.
A few of the children wanted to continue trying to get the stone in the cup. They were up for the challenge, even after the rest of the group had moved on to other activities. The few were persistent. Two of the kids actually got the stone in the cup after many tries.
One of the six-years-old boy kept going and going even after everyone else had quit. As he kept trying and failing, I tried to encourage him in his growing frustration. I told him that even though David had only used one stone, David had practiced a lot before that time. I reminded him that David had killed the lion and the bear. I told him, I was sure much of David’s time tending the sheep was spent sharpening his slingshot skills. David was prepared when everyone else had given up because of this.
After finally getting the stone in the cup, he said, “Yea, He did eventually get the stone in the cup a couple times knocking the cup over as it entered. He was so proud of himself. I smiled as I heard him telling his mom about the lesson as they walked out of the church doors.
I thought about the young child’s comment as I left. “ I’m David. The rest of the class is like the Israelites, they gave up.” How many times do I look at preparation time as wasted time? I would love to think that I have learned the lesson, but too often I give up in the preparation. I grow weary of not seeing the progress I expect. I cower back in fear when the enemy comes against me because my faith isn’t where it needs to be in the moment.
When I do see success in the long term, I know the only reason I am is due to preparation. I can make the win because I put the time in during practice ahead of time. Some thing’s I am great at putting in the preparation time, but too often I get discouraged in the preparation, especially as a task oriented person. I like things that I can accomplish, but much of life is just cumulative preparation.
I want to have the perserverance of David. I want the stick-to-it-ness of the child not willing to stop until he showed he could get the stone in the cup. I want to be the person that is ready to face the battle, regardless of how big the enemy appears. I want to have the faith to stand when everyone else is cowering back. I want to be the person who never, ever gives up. I want to see the impossible done.