Children’s Ministry changed a ton over the twenty years I worked in it. What started as flannel boards with little flannel people became stage, lights, and technology. The methods changed, but the message didn’t.
Somewhere between flannel boards and technology, children’s sermons were “the thing.” All the kids would come to the front of the church auditorium during the adult service and I’d present a creative five-minute object lesson. It was during one of these children’s sermons that this event occurred.
The lesson was a tough one…death. I was on my knees so that I’d be on the kids’ level. I was wearing my yellow ruffled skirt. I had lots of stuff—a huge birdcage, my pink Bible, and a bright yellow bucket of candy bars to give the kids as they returned to their seats.
“Imagine that you are a little yellow bird,” I began, holding the birdcage. “This big gold cage is your home. You have everything you need in this cage. You have a food dish, a mirror, and a swing. Then one day a little girl carries your cage into a rainforest. Your cage is surrounded by splashes of sunlight, tall green trees, sweet-smelling flowers, sparkling waterfalls. And flying everywhere are thousands of birds.” I paused and then asked slowly, “Can you imagine wanting to stay in this cage? It is comfortable. It is familiar. But it can’t compare to the magnificent rainforest.”
I explained that life here on earth is very similar. We have everything we need. It is comfortable and it is familiar. But it can’t compare to what heaven is like. I concluded with a Bible verse, handed out the candy, and dismissed the kids to their seats.
At that moment, something snapped. At first I wasn’t sure what it was. Then I quickly realized it was the elastic in the waist of my skirt. “Ok,” my mind calculated. “How am I going to get up off my knees, hold my skirt which is already slipping down my hips, carry the birdcage, my Bible, and the bucket, make it to the front row to sit down, and do it all with one hand?” Six hundred people and a TV camera awaited my answer.
With all eyes on me, I pressed my prosthetic elbow hard against my hip to hopefully keep my skirt from slipping any lower. I positioned the birdcage on the stage for decoration. I grabbed my Bible and the bucket with my real hand, stood up, and made a mad dash for the front row. I made it.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)