Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth;meditate on it day and night,so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)
About two-thirds of the way into the church service each week, one of the pastors invites the children to join him up front. He presents a little object lesson or tells a story, then we recite the verse of the month together—a verse the entire congregation is memorizing.This week, the pastor held up between his forefinger and thumb something small and oblong.”Can you guess what this is?” he asked the kids.”Candy!” one of the kids called out.”It’s not candy,” he said. My family and I were sitting toward the back, so I leaned forward and squinted. Maybe a vitamin, I speculated. Then he can say something about how vitamins nourish us when we take them daily just like God’s Word nourishes us when we take it in daily. “Play-dough?” a kid offered.”No, it’s not Play-dough,” he answered, still holding the small item up for them to consider.I began to doubt the vitamin idea. Maybe it was a bullet? The room was quiet as the kids exhaled other possibilities in shy, preschool whispers that I couldn’t make out. We all wondered.Suddenly, without a word, the pastor popped it in his mouth.Is he going to swallow that? I wondered. How can he get it down without any water?*chomp* *chomp* *chomp*Oh, it’s a chewable vitamin, I reasoned.”Gum!” he exclaimed. *chomp* *chomp* *chomp*”It’s chewing gum,” he managed to say between chomps.“Gum!” I said out loud, my voice mingling with the murmuring crowd. People nodded as he explained that chewing gum is like meditating, because when you’re meditating, it’s like you’re chewing on something, thinking about it over and over just like you chew gum over and over. He said sometimes he would chew on the same piece of gum all day long. Adults gasped and giggled.That piece of gum was big, requiring him to open his jaw wide to work it around in his mouth and soften it up, so he would say a few words and then pause to chew.*chomp* *chomp* *chomp*His jaw working that gum, chomping, teaching, modeling. Of course. So simple.We recited the verse in unison:
Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)
Our pastor prayed for the children with that gum crammed in the side of his cheek and then, with a smile, he dismissed them to children’s worship, inviting the rest of us to turn and greet one another. And I remembered that gum, that chomping, that verse, all day long.
I’m sharing this with Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday, hosted by Michelle Derusha and On, In, and Around Mondays, hosted by L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone.
Gum in church? Shocking! Back in my day, we would never have stood for such a thing! Actually, one of my most memorable Sunday School lessons as a child became memorable because we were given a stick of gum during the Sunday School class. This is a really great visual. I think sometimes Christians get a little creeped out by the word meditate, thinking it’s too new-agey or something. But we are told to do it, so it’s helpful to have an image of what that might look like.
Sheila Seiler Lagrand says
I don’t ever remember being given gum in church.
What a lovely analogy, though! Sometimes I think I need to attend the children’s Sunday School and brush up on my basics.
David Rupert says
That’s a great illustration about meditating…keep on chewing on the word! Don’t forget it. Use it…
Megan Willome says
I often get more out of children’s sermons than real ones.
A perfect illustration Ann. I far too often swallow before chewing well.
Hazel I. Moon says
I love it when Pastors share an illustration with the children. This is such a great visual and one to remember, for adults as well. Chew on God’s word — Yumm.
Clever and creative…I’ll bet those kiddos will remember that, too.
Bill Vriesema says
Great illustration (and your storytelling about it!)
It reminds me of a talk by Eugene Peterson at Calvin regarding his book called “Eat this book”