I teach the preschool class at our church, and I was delighted to teach them a lesson on Joy this past Sunday morning. My heart has taken a dive this week, which also happens to be why I haven't blogged in a few days... so it was a good reminder to look at truth in the most basic, childlike way, to see what joy really is.
As I explained to the threes and fours, joy is choosing to be happy, even when it's hard. We can be happy, because God gives us joy.
We talked about joy in so many ways. We read a story about a boy who needed to pick apples with his family, but he just wanted to play in the apple orchard. Finally, he decided to help his family, and we all learned how happy we can feel when we help others with a smile.
We memorized verses. Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
They listened. They chanted. They sang. They danced for joy. They made Fruit Loop necklaces (since we were talking about the Fruits of the Spirit, of course), with a Joy Pendant dangling in the middle. And all through the morning, I reminded them to smile and be happy.
They were really getting it, and that is one of the finest moments in teaching: when they get it. One little boy accidentally stepped on the fingers of a little girl, and as she cried and he apologized, he said, "I'm so sorry. I was just jumping for joy." (How sweet is that?)
I asked them, "What are we learning about today?"
A chorus of preschoolers shouted: "JOY!"
Again and again, I said, "We can be happy because God gives us..."
And in sweet unison, they shouted, "JOY!!"
And because I know better than ever the heart of a parent, I asked them a few times, "When you see your moms and dads after church, you can tell them what we learned. We learned that God gives us..."
Without fail, and with great exuberance, they shouted: "JOY!"
At the end of the morning, their parents came to retrieve them. As their Moms and Dads greeted them, the parents asked (and I alternately prompted), "What did you learn about today?"
And without fail, not a single child had an answer. Their lips were zipped up tight. Nothing. All of their enthusiasm... gone. Not a bit of joy to be found. Nobody reported their findings from the Word of God. Nobody!
Man cannot live on bread alone... but it appears that preschoolers are content with fruit loops.