I volunteered to help teach the four and five-year-olds Sunday School the other day.
There were three of us adults in the class, which was just about perfect, considering that each of these kids has a strong personality and tremendous energy.
A little later in the hour, two other kids arrived. The boy joined right in for the lesson. But the little girl—I’ll call her Joni—proceeded straight to a table and climbed underneath.
We teachers welcomed her and invited her to join the group.
But she remained there for the duration of the lesson and song-time and nothing I said could induce her to leave her spot.
Which was a bit of a problem because she distracted the other children and some of them tried to climb underneath the table to join her.
After song-time I said, “Okay, it’s time to wash our hands and get ready for snack time.”
Immediately our little Joni jumped up and rushed to the head of the line for wash-up.
I helped her suds her hands and rinse and dry them.
She ate her graham cracker with gusto and quickly downed her dixie cup of water.
I sat down next to Joni as the craft items were place on the table.
She dove for the crayons and stickers.
Hmm, this little girl sure fooled us. She had seemed shy when she entered the room.
“Can you write your name?”
She looked at me as if I were crazy. Without a word, she deftly wrote her name at the bottom of her sheet of paper, then glanced up at me as with a cute but pugnacious thrust of her tiny chin.
She placed her stickers amongst the words, “Jesus loves me.”
Then colored with a skillful hand.
Joni insisted that I sit nearby so I could see how well she was coloring.
After she finished the craft, I said, “Can you draw other things?”
“Of course,” she said. “Wait till you see how well I can draw a horse.”
She turned the sheet over and grabbed another crayon. “Now close your eyes and don’t look until I’m finished.”
When she was done she told me I could look. Sure enough, she’d drawn a very recognizable horse and even added a saddle and stirrups.
We spent the rest of craft time talking about My Little Ponies and I told her about my granddaughter’s collection of My Little Ponies.
After the Sunday school ended, one of the teachers remarked, “Well, it looks like all Joni needed was someone to connect with.”
Arriving late, Joni saw that we were already involved in an activity and found the area underneath the table a safer place to be.
I’ve seen this with grown people too.
Not that they hide underneath tables!
I work in women’s ministries and have seen grown women arrive at a women’s social, then turn around and go home if they do not quickly find an available table to sit at with women they already know.
But once they’re safely situated, they talk and participate like old pros.
Just like Joni.
Folks, let’s turn our eyes outward and notice others.
It’s so easy to only think about our own schedules and our own friends.
Look around. Is some person sitting all by himself at church? Go sit with him.
Who’s that couple in the lobby at church? Go over and introduce yourself.
How about that nice family three doors down from your own house? Invite them over for lunch.
And if you are lonely, call somebody and invite them to do something together. Don’t wait for somebody to call you. Make the first move. People will love you for it!
Everybody wants to be wanted.
Sometimes the connection is as simple as trading stories about your last trip to the zoo with a grandchild.
“Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he had received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4: 7-10 NIV Bible)