the rectangle

A few Sundays ago, I did an activity with my small group (I hang out with the 3rd grade boys before and after Trinity Kidsplace large group service) that has stayed on my mind and heart these last few weeks.

I put a different name tag on each of the boys:

“Hello, my name is__________” tags, that we then labeled with all the things the boys’ said that they loved to do.  Hello, my name is Wii.  Hello, my name is skateboarding.  Hello, my name is… Reading Books.  Art.  Play Station.  Television.  Bike-riding.  Playing with friends. Football.  Swimming.  XBox. Each boy got a label representing an activity.

I drew a rectangle on the ground with painter’s tape, and explained that the rectangle represented the 24 hours each of us have in a day. Then I started putting boys in the rectangle.  Wii went in.  Skateboarding went in.  Television. Books.  Friends.  It was getting crowded, but I kept shoving them in the rectangle.  Bike-riding, playstation.  This was getting messy.  Not much room left in the rectangle now.   With some effort, the boys squeezed together to cram in Football, and that was it.  No room left.

Then I introduced a boy who had been given a tag that said “Hello, my name is Jesus.”  Except…he wouldn’t fit in the rectangle.  There was no way, with all the other stuff happening in that rectangle, that there was room for Jesus.

I had all the boys exit the rectangle and sit down, and we put Jesus in the rectangle first.  Then Jesus got to decide who else could join him.  We had a good talk about how we must make Jesus – praying to Him, and reading his Word – take first priority, and then let Him control the hours we’re given.  Some of the kids acted surprised that Jesus asked Wii and Skateboarding to join him in the rectangle, so we had a good talk about having fun while honoring God, and how every good gift comes from Him.  (These unexpected conversations about the character and nature of God are my favorite!)

I’ve thought a lot since that Sunday about my rectangle and the things that crowd out Jesus.  “Hello, my name is….” Housework. Television.  Books. Cooking. Friends. Vanity.  Time spent cleaning the kitchen counter for the 15th time, watching a mindless sitcom, texting a friend a random story, spending too much time blow drying my hair and carefully applying make-up, and just like that the routine of a normal day can leave no room for Jesus.  He gets squeezed out of my rectangle more often that I’d like to admit.

What I’ve learned by experience but haven’t fully embraced in practice, is that when I make Jesus priority – when He is the first thing allowed in my rectangle – then supernaturally the rectangle this is my day seems to expand, making room for everything else that must be done.  Except that it’s not a place of chaos, with all the demands pushing and shoving to make room, it’s a place of peace with plenty of time and space for all that He asks of me.

Thanks 3rd grade boys, for helping me learn a lesson, and thanks 252basics for great curriculum that teaches the teacher!

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