The Folly of Doing it On Our Own

By:  Staci Stallings

This is turning out to be one of my favorite Sunday School days of the year.  This last week we did the pattern-path.  It’s the day we talk about Jesus as part of the Trinity.  In the activity, my oldest daughter lays out a pattern of 3 X 5 cards in various colors.  Then she is Jesus.

Each student gets to walk the path that Jesus created.  At first they do it on their own with Jesus standing there watching them and judging if they are doing the path correctly.  Now the path starts at one corner of the room and goes all the way around to the other corner.  Each level of the path has three different colors.  You choose which color to step on on each level.  But you have to do it perfectly, or you get sent back to your seat by Jesus.

It’s always so interesting to watch the kids.  At first they don’t get it.  Then they really start trying to figure out the path.  My daughter always does something that’s relatively easy to figure at first–like step on the pink one in each row, but then about 1/4 around, she gets tricky.

Which is actually a great metaphor for life.  Because at first, really life is not too terribly hard to navigate.  Don’t lie.  Don’t steal.  Don’t kill anybody.  Sounds pretty easy and at first it is.

But then life gets trickier.  Don’t lie we learn can mean not just outright lying but fudging the truth as well.  Maybe you don’t say, “I was at Timmy’s” as your lie.  Maybe you just say, “I was at a friend’s” not adding the fact that the friend was Timmy (whom Mom said you couldn’t go to his house).  And we also start intellectualizing our lies, figuring out ways that it’s not REALLY lying–just not telling the whole truth.  “I was stuck in traffic.  That’s why I’m late.”  When the real reason you were stuck in traffic to begin with was that you left 15 minutes late knowing you could use the traffic as your excuse.

Or maybe it’s stealing.  When you’re young, you know not to slip that pack of gum into your pocket.  But as you get older, do you also know not to take a pen from a colleague’s desk and not return it?  Or do you know that snitching a grape from the store while you shop is wrong?  Or do you know that borrowing your neighbor’s shovel and then leaving it in your garage until they ask for it back is wrong?

And of course you’re not supposed to stab someone to death, but what if you stab their spirit every time you’re around them?  What if you put them down behind their backs, killing their good name?

Just like the pattern, the farther you go in life, the trickier it sometimes becomes to navigate what you should and shouldn’t do.

So the kids finally figured out the first part, but once they hit tricky, the jig was up.  One after the other after the other, Jesus sent them back to their seats.

Then I told the next girl up (who had been standing right by Jesus the whole time) that she could choose someone to help her with the path.  “Anyone?”  “Yes, you can choose anyone in the room.”  She looked around, thought about it, and chose a classmate.  This moment is always a surprise to me because what I expect them to do, they never do.  So I said, “Okay.”

Of course, two heads are not better than one because the other student didn’t know the tricky part any better than the first had.

Suddenly, however, as the two of them were walking around, one of the girls still in the chairs said, “Wait!  Could she have chosen Jesus to lead her?”  I said, “I said anyone in the room.”

Word spread like wildfire to those who had not yet gone.  “Choose Jesus!  You can choose Jesus to lead you!”

So when the next young man stepped up, he looked up at me with hesitant hope, “Can I choose Jesus to lead me?”

I smiled.  “Sure!”

So he did.

Again, you never know what kind of cool lessons you’re about to learn.  Jesus started around in front of him and before they were a 1/4 of the way around the room, they had most of the other students following them!  Yes, he had figured it out.  He was following Jesus, and now because of that, everybody else was too!  And they were all excited because they made it through the tricky part.  “Oh, man!  I should have done that!”

It was funny.

When he got all the way around, I (as God) told him the really cool part.  When you’re following Jesus and you get to Heaven, God doesn’t ask Jesus how you did.  He doesn’t even judge how you did.  He simply asks JESUS if JESUS got it all right.  Of course Jesus got it right!  HE IS THE WAY!

You get in to Heaven on what Jesus did for you… not on your own effort.  How cool is that?

And right there encapsulates the folly of doing it on our own.  We cannot do it perfectly.  We will get tripped up.  On our own, even with our best efforts, we are sunk.

Ah, but with Jesus leading… with Jesus guiding our every step… we don’t have to worry about if we’ve done it all right enough to get into Heaven because Jesus already got us there by following the Path He set down for our lives.

How cool is that?

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2 Responses to The Folly of Doing it On Our Own

  1. Sam Pakan says:

    Great exercise, Staci! And very creative!

    • Thanks, Sam. That was a Holy Spirit inspiration about 2 years ago. The lessons that come out of it from the kids surprise me every year. Last year one girl, even when she knew she could choose Jesus to help her, chose to do it on her own. Sounds familiar! 🙂

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