11 years ago my husband Darcy and I planted a church in Squamish. At the time, out of the 5 kids attending, 3 were ours. With our youngest being just 2, I figured I’d be hanging out with them anyway so may as well start some sort of children’s ministry. One thing I’ve discovered about children’s ministry is that it’s a little like “Hotel California” – very easy to get into but you can’t really leave! So, after 11 years I still find myself teaching the kids. Apparently, according to everyone else in our church, I’ve become really good at it (insert eye roll).
Anyway, over the years I’ve been amazed at the number of times God speaks to me through what is going on as I teach. This spring as we were playing a game it happened again. This time we were learning about the prophets and how they were God’s messengers. So, for fun, we played the telephone game. The one where you whisper a message one person to another and the last person says what they heard. On this Sunday we had about 10 kids ranging in age from 2-11 yrs old. After the first try, I could see this wasn’t working as the younger kids didn’t get “whispering”. So, I had the kids stomp their feet during the game. This worked. As they played, it felt like I was watching God talk to me. The kids had a really hard time not only hearing the message but also in getting it right when the others were stomping. (I know, profound, right?!)
Because Darcy and I were about to leave on a one month sabbatical, it was like God was saying, “you need to cut out the stomping over this next month so you can hear me clearly.” That is the point of sabbath/sabbatical – cut out the stomping; the things that make it hard to hear. The other thing I noticed was that when a younger kid said something to another young kid, they just passed on what they thought they heard. But, when a younger kid said it to an older kid, if it didn’t make sense, the older kid would look at me and say, “that can’t be right.” For me this was a picture of the need for continued growth and maturity. When we are new in our faith, we can hear all kinds of things “from God” and can think it’s right. However, as we grow and get to know God more, we gain discernment. We begin to recognize His voice so when we “hear” something, we have the depth of relationship to know if it “sounds like God.”
Neither of these are new concepts. However, it set the tone for our sabbatical – to cut out the stomping so we hear His voice more clearly and to then recognize His voice in the noise. “Stomping” pops in my head occasionally throughout my day now helping me discern what is simply noise.