A Piece of Encouragement

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This middle-aged mama has developed an addiction. It started out innocently enough. Tara, my ten-year-old daughter, was working on a one-hundred-piece “Finding Nemo” puzzle, and I wanted her to go to bed. Although puzzles have always been at the top of my “Not To Do” list, helping her seemed like the fastest way to accomplish my bedtime goal. And it worked — hours later, I’d become so obsessed with finding Nemo’s fin that Tara wandered off to bed on her own.

The next morning I drove like a madwoman to the thrift shop and amassed a collection of puzzles that rivals the jigsaw aisle at Hobby Lobby. Yesterday I was late for a dental appointment because I lost track of time while gathering edge pieces, and last night I let the potatoes boil over on the stove while I searched for the perfect piece to complete my five-hundred-piece “Painted Pony.”

So why has it taken me — a type A personality who finds organizing cupboards and packing suitcases exciting — so long to pick up puzzle pieces and put them together? Truth is it never made sense to me to put so much work into something that just went back into the box when it was done. Does children’s ministry ever feel like that to you? You dedicate time during the week preparing for a lesson — cutting out Memory Cards, printing off reproducible pages, singing songs, learning Bible stories. Then you bring it all to church, set up the room, get out the supplies, greet the kids, tell the story, sing the songs, and play the games until — BAM! — the faces of the kids’ families members appear at the door. Then, with a WHOOSH! the kids are gone and you’re left putting pieces back in the box.

Leading kids can be challenging, but there’s a reason so many of us have become addicted to helping them connect with God. We know that every week some of the puzzle pieces are heading out the door with our kids. A song lyric, a glimpse of God, a Scripture verse, an assurance of God’s love, and the promises of prayer all went home last week, and this week we’ll open up the box and give our kids some more. Truth is, even though we may never get to see the finished picture, we trust that God is at work, putting those pieces together. Paul puts it like this in Philippians 4:6: “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Kind of makes you want to open the box and start again doesn’t it?

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