by: Staci Stallings
One of my favorite Sunday School lessons that I teach my fourth graders has to do with how we relate to Jesus in our lives. In the lesson, “Jesus” –played by my daughter—sets up a path with multi-colored pieces of paper that are about 3” X 5”. She lays them out in rows of three on the floor of the classroom from one side all the way around to the other.
Then I tell the kids that if they can make the right decision on each row (choosing only ONE of the three pieces of paper to step on each time), they will get Heaven. If not, they lose.
“Jesus” is the judge and stands off to the side to watch and see if they choose the right path all the way around.
Well, as you can imagine, the kids have no idea how to do this, so one-by-one as each gets a turn at figuring out what, in essence, is the impossible. One thing that fascinates me is how they each come up with their own method of tackling the task. One will just pick each step randomly. One has a pattern in their mind and they try that. One will go really fast—on the assumption that if Jesus can’t accurately see which ones the kid stepped on, it doesn’t count.
This last time we had a young lady who was very interesting to watch. She started at the first row and took a good 15 seconds to decide. (We always let them go 7 or 8 rows before Jesus judges, otherwise, they really can logically figure out the pattern!). She steps up to the next row, and another fifteen seconds goes by. On the third one, she started to step on one, pulled her foot back, hesitated and finally chose a different one.
By the fifth row, she was literally, physically shaking.
So I asked Jesus if she got them all right before she passed out from the stress. Of course, she hadn’t. But let me tell you, that girl was SERIOUS about making the right decision every, single time even though she really had no hope of doing so on her own.
On her own.
That, to me, is the key to this whole lesson. On our own, we don’t have much hope of making even half of the decisions in our lives right. Oh, sure, we watch others, try to learn from their mistakes, try to learn from our own mistakes, but wow, is that difficult. Those of us who really try to make every decision right end up just like my student—a worried, shaky, stressed-out mess.
I know I did. Growing up, I lived life exactly as she was trying to make those decisions—trying to see all the way through everything so I didn’t mess up, analyzing and re-analyzing, making goals and then subgoals and then subgoals of the subgoals. I tried to control everything—most especially myself.
And it was horrible.
Every decision felt overwhelming and all on my shoulders.
What I didn’t know then was the next step in this Sunday School lesson. When everyone except one has gone, I invite the final child up. Then we do something important. We think the situation all the way through. I tell him or her that someone in the room knows the path. Who is that?
So the smart thing to do would be to what?
Ask Jesus to help us!
The child who asks Jesus to help gets several advantages the others just didn’t have.
#1 Jesus leads them, step by step, through the path that HE knows.
#2 Jesus watches each step we take and points out the right one if we get confused.
#3 Jesus can even forgive us if we get off of His path.
I don’t know about you, but to me, that is VERY Good News!
In fact, armed with this lesson, I have begun stepping out boldly in faith. I truly believe Jesus directs every one of my steps. He tells me when to stop. He tells me when to go. He lines things out in front of me in ways I couldn’t think through even if I tried.
So when I got the following from a friend on Facebook for the New Year, I understood completely…
“This is the year God will shift things in your favor,
He is lining it all up.
What you could not make happen on your own,
It will be bigger than you thoughtGod will cause you to accomplish.
And will happen quicker than you imagine.
So be BOLD and step out with GREAT FAITH in this New Year!”
Thank you to whoever sent me that, and God bless all of you who are letting go of trying to make every decision right on your own. Learn to let Jesus lead you every step, and when you do, stepping out in GREAT FAITH will be learning to live in a way you never even know was possible! Why? Because on our own, it isn’t!