This is something I have had a little trouble wrapping my mind around. How do I talk to my kids about fasting? Mommy’s not having dessert this month. Nope, no coffee either, or syrup on my pancakes. And they’ll probably be happy that Mommy’s not going to be on her iPhone so much (unless I’m writing this blog!)… Why? Because Mommy is fasting. What is fasting? It is choosing not to do or eat something I really like, so that instead I can focus on something that is more important: loving Jesus, and loving others.
We’ve talked with our kids about it a little bit, and I think more will come out as we go along with this. My husband and I each have an idea of what we’ll do for each of the four weeks of the fast, but we’ll let God keep prompting us as we go along.
However, this week I am teaching Sunday School, so I need to talk to the elementary kids – including my two oldest- about our church’s Month of Dedication, and what it could mean to them. I don’t want to force anything on my kids that they won’t really understand, so this is how I’ve decided to approach it.
The story of Queen Esther is a fun one. Young immigrant girl becomes Queen because, basically, the King thinks she’s hot. (Okay I am not going to say that part to the kids!) But anyway, she’s a Jew, the King’s friend hates the Jews, she fasts and prays, along with her people, and God reverses the situation. It’s a great, concrete story to illustrate prayer and fasting, and having the courage to do what’s right instead of what is easy, or instead of ignoring a situation and hoping it goes away on its own. (That last method is usually is not too successful.)
I’ll ask about why she fasted (seeking God’s help), what she didn’t do (eat/drink for 3 days), and what she did do (pray!). We’ll throw in some interactive storytelling and a game of hangman (see chapters 5 & 7), and we’ll talk about how the Month of Dedication is about not doing what is normal/easy so we can instead do what is BETTER. Like turn our eyes on Jesus, do family daily devotions (we have some great kids Bible books and devotionals at home), and talking to God about doing what is GOOD but HARD.
I’m going to do that illustration with the jar as your life, to talk about priorities. You know, the one with the rocks, pebbles, and sand? Google it. There are lots of versions. Anyway, my version is going to be potatoes, dried garbanzo beans, and sugar. Because that is what I have on hand. And it’s late at night. And I didn’t prepare in advance.
One jar, 2 small potatoes: God, family. Full, right? Add the beans: school, sports, clubs, music lessons, chores, homework, school fundraisers, exercise, Scouts, friends… Full. Add the sugar: iPad, video games, dessert… Full. Add water: happiness, love, excitement, satisfaction from working hard– the things we can’t touch or define exactly, but essential to life. The point here is that none of those things are bad, but we have to get them in the right order. If we fill our lives with sugar first, and get busy with the beans, we might miss the potatoes and find they don’t fit. But when we put the big potatoes in first, God will make sure to help us fit everything else where it belongs, and give us those positive emotions (water) as well.
Then I’ll finish with two questions:
1. What do you want God to help you do that is hard? Or take care of that is too big for you?
2. What can you do FIRST this week (like read Bible before iPad) or GIVE UP this week, to remind you that God is the biggest and most important thing in life?
We’ll have some coloring pages and a take-home handout too.
We’ll see how it goes. I’m exhausted and didn’t proof read, but I am going to bed now. I’ll let you know how it goes! It’s after midnight, so I guess I’m officially fasting now! Happy March!!