The Moment

By:  Staci Stallings

The lesson at Sunday School was about Jesus and how God loves us, through Jesus and with Jesus in our lives.  My oldest daughter, Stefani, is my assistant, and we had worked out the details of the lesson prior to the activity.  It went something like this:

We would set on the floor three pieces of paper of various colors.  Forward a step, we would set three more, and continued as such around the room.  Stefani would play Jesus, I would play God.  Heaven would be a candy cane (kids are suckers for candy, you would think they were getting a Lexus or something based on how serious they get when candy is involved!).  Three students were chosen:  two boys, one girl.  The “how to play” was given.

“You must choose one piece of paper on each step.  Jesus will be the judge of if you have taken each step correctly.  If you get all the way around, taking each step correctly, you get the candy cane of Heaven.  If not, you lose.”

The first child up was a boy.  You would have thought we were making rockets.  Every kid was straining to watch, to see if he could make it all the way around the room without messing up.  Everyone had a theory about what the pattern might be. Jesus stood right there, arms crossed, watching each and every step.  All the way around the room the child went.  When he got to the gates of Heaven, I, as God, asked Stefani as Jesus (who had a very stern look on her face) if he had made every step right.  I gave her the candy cane.  “If he got every step right, he gets Heaven.”  Very solemnly, she looked into his pleading face, shook her head, and handed me the candy cane back.  I told him, “Sorry.  Go sit down.”

The next child up was the other boy.  He didn’t take a whole lot of time going around, though everyone was watching him as well.  When he got to the gates of Heaven, I asked Jesus if he had gotten every step right.  Again, Jesus shook “His” head and handed me the candy cane back.  I looked at the boy and asked, “Did you do your best?”  Quickly, with wide, hopeful eyes, he nodded.  I said, “Sorry.  You still lose.  Go sit down.”

I then pulled out a book called “The King’s Song” by Max Lucado, and I told the little girl to listen carefully to find the key to making it all the way around.

In the story, three knights are chosen to vie for the princess’s hand and the chance to live forever in the castle (Heaven).  The king tells them they will have to go into the Hemlock Forest, a dreadful, scary place where the Hopenots live.  Every day the king will three times play music on his flute from the castle walls to help the knights know the direction they must travel.  Also, each knight is given the chance to ask a companion to go on the journey with him.  Each knight chooses, and off they go.

So I had the two boys come back up, and they each got to choose a companion.  The first pair got about 10 steps before Jesus shut the game off.  They had already made too many mistakes to warrant getting into Heaven. It was a hopeless endeavor to even continue.  The second set didn’t even get the first step right, and they were sent back home.  Again, only the girl remained.  I looked at her with grave seriousness and told her to listen carefully to the end of the story so she would know how to get all the way around.

Again, I started reading.  As the story progresses, only one knight emerges from the Hemlock Forest.  The king orders a banquet to be set.  At the banquet, the winning knight is revealed to be not the strongest or the quickest but the wisest.  He tells a harrowing tale of how the Hopenots ambushed them, took their weapons, and assualted them.  But then he says that worse than all of that, they “imitated.”  Not understanding, the king asks him to explain.

As they walked, when the flute song of the king would begin, hundreds of OTHER flutes would also begin so that if you didn’t know the song “by heart,” you could not tell which was which.  But how did he know which song was the true song of the king? they asked.  The brave and wise knight then reveals the companion he chose to accompany him on the journey–the prince, the king’s son!  As they walked, the prince would play the king’s song, so that when the king began to play, the knight now knew the song “by heart” and could find his way back to the castle.

When the story was finished, I looked at the girl and said, “Now, I will let you choose your companion.”  She immediately looked out to the other kids–confusion, worry, fear were etched on the look.  I said, “Think about the story, and choose wisely.  Someone in here knows the right way.  Who is that?”

At first the kids (who to their credit always want whoever it is to win) were saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”  Suddenly someone yelled out, “No!  God knows!  God knows the right way!”  Looking confused at everyone shouting at her, the girl looked at me.  I nodded and said, “They’re close.  Who should you pick? Who know the right way?”

I wish you could have been there at that moment.  I really, really do.

Someone in the back said, “Jesus! It’s Jesus!  Pick Jesus!  He knows the way!”

The little girl’s gaze swept from mine, across the room, over the kids, and right at Stefani who smiled at her.  The fear, the worry, the confusion swiped from the girl’s face in one moment as in amazement, she looked back to me.  “Can I choose Jesus?”

I’m not sure if I laughed or cried.  At that moment, I was about to burst.  I nodded and said, “Yes.  All you have to say is, ‘I choose Jesus.'”  She looked back across the room, pointed to Jesus and said, “I choose Jesus.”

With no hesitation at all, Stefani came right over.

I said to the child, “Now, you have one more decision to make.  Where do you want Jesus to walk?  Behind you so that you’re leading?  Beside you, or in front of you?  Do you want Jesus to lead or to follow?”

There was not much hesitation on her face at all.  “To lead.”

“Okay.”

So Stefani started (we had preplanned the order you had to walk so that there was an actual “right way”).  I want you to know that little girl never took her gaze off of Stefani’s feet.  Each time Stef picked her foot up, the little’s girl’s foot was right there to cover the same square of paper.  All the way around the room, with every eye on them, they made their way until they got all the way to the gates of Heaven.

When they arrived, I looked at Jesus.  “Did she do it all right?”  “Yes,” came the answer.  I handed the candy cane over, and with a big smile, Stefani/Jesus handed it to the little girl who was absolutely beaming!  Then I looked at her and said, “Did you do your best?”  She looked a little confused.  “Or did you do Jesus’s best?”  She smiled a mega-watt smile.  “I did Jesus’s best.  I just followed where He stepped.”

I guarantee you, I will never forget the moment that little girl realized she could ask Jesus to lead her through the maze.  The confidence on her face–not in herself and her own abilities, but in His–was simply indescribably beautiful.  She KNEW Jesus knew, and she knew He would not let her down.

How about you?  Have you had “The Moment”?  If not, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to choose Jesus.

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