Every Wednesday during the school year I find myself hanging out with some women and children who hunger for the King and His word. It’s a unique kind of Bible Study and it has stretched me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. My friends and I dive in deep, firmly plant ourselves and invest into eternity for the majority of the Day. I have several roles there but one of my favorites it to be the facilitator for the Sheep Lunch Bunch Opening Ceremony.
The open ceremony is when the Sheep friends (Preschoolers to Kindergartners) open their lunches. I instituted the Opening Ceremony some years ago when the chaos of 18 preschoolers all opening their packed-at-home lunches at the same time was too much for me to handle. In those early days there was much confusion over whose Lunchable that was or whose Mama didn’t pack a surprise snack, there are always cheers for the Mama who did. The kid whose Mama packs him raisins every single week, who has yet to tell her he doesn’t like raisins, I sometimes wonder if he does like them every other day of the week. The opening of lunchables has repeatedly proven to be a challenge for pudgy preschool digits with limited dexterity. If one is not careful one can in a single motion sling every item from its individual compartment thus resulting in airborn cookies, cheese, all manner of meats and preschool sized snacks across the room. This never ends well. Tears are inevitable, confusion unavoidable and the day ruined. I had to find a way to bring order to the opening of the lunch boxes so I developed and instituted the Opening Ceremony. Now the eager Sheep have a method and organization to their lunch consumption. A laid out plan to adhere to.
First: Bottoms must be in chairs and Hands in the air.
Second: Everyone gets a dollop of hand sanitizer we “Rub, Rub, Rub tops and sides and Let it dry” The let it dry portion is usually accompanied by jazzy hands.
Third: We give a shout out to Jesus and give our prayer requests.
I never grow tired of this part. We’ve prayed for the Daddies, all the Daddies represented in the room, for dogs and cats, and Mommies. Hurt fingers and toes and loved ones whom I’ve never met. We have prayed for jobs and work and cars and all manner of things that make up the world we live in. We have celebrated birthdays and accomplishments, new baby brothers or sisters (there has been a repeated request that we pray for Mama because she says she’s gonna have a girl but it’s really gonna be a boy so a baby brudder can have a brudder too). We have thanked God for lunches and Bible study days, and most of all for Jesus Himself who loves us all dearly and without whom none of it would be possible or worth it.
Then there is the countdown, then carefully each one opens his or her lunch at the same time. Some of my adult friends and myself methodically work our way around the room opening packages and food bearing parcels. It is a fabulous good time, one that whets my own appetite for my own packed at home lunch not packed by my Mama but my own hand.
Typically by the time I eat my lunch I am ravenous, having spent the morning zooming too and fro, loving on kids and talking with ladies. Counting and sorting and crafting. Listening and talking, laughing and walking. Praying and studying. It is the makings of an exhausting but good day.
Recently during Opening Ceremony I had made my way to the lunch box of a Sheep friend when after I had opened the prepackaged food items I straightened and headed toward his neighbor to begin the opening process all over again. I felt a tug on my dinosaur tee shirt. My Sweet friend C. loves a dinosaur and has often been extremely impressed that I, a grown up, have worn a dino-tee-shirt “just for him.” I felt another pull on my shirt and looked down, inches from my face was an Uncrustable sandwich.
“Here.” he held the sandwich firm insisting I had forgotten something.
“I opened it Buddy”
“No-o-o You didn’t take off da crust!”
“It’s an UN-CRUST-able.”
“Yeah but you didn’t take off the crust!” Clearly frustrated with my lack of understanding he pointed to the crimped edge of the sandwich.
As I stood there and tore the non-existing crust off of the sandwich, I mused that this must be how I am with the King. He has a plan, an excellent plan He moves about making sure I have all that I need. He had outlined repeatedly what I am supposed to do, yet somehow I find myself thrusting my proverbial sandwich his way, the one named for not having crust requesting He “Do something like take off the crust.”
I wonder if He looks at me quizzically, liked I looked at my 4 year old friend C. and thinks the obvious, “I’ve got this. I’ve got you. I am doing something. More than you know” yet at my insistence He takes the that Uncrustable of a situation and pulls that crimped edge off because he loves me, because He knows I am anxious about it and because He is kind.
My friend C. recently gave me a prized dino toy. It is a blue squishy T-rex. His Mama told me he sorted through eighteen other dinos to find the one he knew I would love. He was right, I do love it. I keep it in a bag and can readily access it. C. suggested I “squeeze it lots ‘cause it’s squishy.” I do as he suggested and I am reminded that the One who loves the Whole Wide World also loves me and that He was willing to go to extraordinary lengths because of that love. He did not shrink away from death, He intercedes on my behalf, and regularly peels the crust off my Uncrustable Sandwich.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Cease striving and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10