It's not that I don't have any ideas. I assure you I have plenty of ideas. My problem is, not having ideas - but having good ideas.
At least, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage seems to think so.
What makes an idea good, anyway? And further, who's to say an idea isn't good? Just because an idea doesn't work does not mean it isn't a good idea.
To be honest, I don't have many ideas and when one hits me, I remember. It was last Thursday, around 2:35 in the afternoon, well before the Sunday morning worship service, so I had plenty of time to prepare and rehearse.
In my case, the only thing "rehearse" does is take me back to the funeral - mine.
At the time, however, it did strike me as an excellent idea. The idea centered on my next children's sermon.
I know what you're thinking. I have never given a children's sermon that has not ended in a disaster. I've had plenty of incentive to quit from You Know Who.
But, that was the old me. I'm a new person and I have given up my old ways of ineptitude and failure in this area.
In fact, I refuse to accept failure here. What do you think of that?
I can't repeat what my wife said when I asked her. It only made me more determined than ever to prove her wrong.
My one goal in life is to one day, in some way, prove her wrong in one thing. At this stage of life, I really don't care what that "one thing" is, as long as it happens.
My motto: "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."
My wife's motto: "If you try again I will ...." Well, let just say it does not harmonize with my motto.
In spite of my wife's foreboding (and warning), I proceeded with my plan. Here is my plan, in a nutshell.
The topic for the day was on the importance of being industrious and busy for the Lord.
My intention was illustrating a parable Jesus taught in the gospel of Luke. "And he called his 10 servants, and delivered them 10 pounds, and said unto them, Occupy til I come." (Luke 19:13 KJV.)
At the outset, this looked easy. I was sitting out back, watching a group of squirrels, when I got the idea for this illustration and I was confident the children would never forget this lesson. I worked hard to make sure I could present it to them as simply as possible.
Sunday finally arrived and I anxiously waited the time for the children's sermon. The service proceeded with wonderful smoothness, which should have clued me into the fact that nothing could ever go this peaceful for long.
Unfortunately for me, I was simply caught up in the moment.
As the last strains of the hymn reverberated in the sanctuary, I moved to the spot where I would invite all the children to the front for the children's sermon before dismissing them to their church program.
I smiled my famous St. Francis of Assisi smile, as I called all the children to the front. Nothing fills my heart with more joy than seeing so many children in church.
As they scrambled to the front and took seats before me, my heart almost burst with delight.
When they settled I said, "Now, children, I'm going to describe something and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is."
The children nodded eagerly. There's nothing like having an audience on the same page with you.
I must say, I did have a brief moment of doubt, but when I saw their eager young faces before me, I threw all caution to the wind. Unfortunately, the wind caught it and threw it right back in my face.
I continued, "This thing lives in trees ..." I paused, hoping someone would raise their hand. No hands.
"... and eats nuts ..." Again I paused, sure someone would raise their hand and I wanted to make sure I saw that first hand.
I was a little disappointed, but bravely carried on with my story. "This thing I'm thinking of is gray ... and has a long bushy tail ..."
At this point, the children were looking at each other, but still no hands graced the air.
I must interject here one important thing. I have stressed to the children that Jesus is the answer to all our problems. No matter what the difficulty or trouble, Jesus is the solution.
I was certain they all knew what I was referring to and could not understand why nobody raised a hand.
With a little trepidation, I persisted, "And it jumps from branch to branch and chatters and flips its tail when it's excited ..."
I paused long enough to look at all the children, but still no hands.
Finally, one little boy tentatively raised his hand. I breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Gary, what do you think it is?"
"Well," Gary said, and he paused to think some more, "I know the answer is supposed to be Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me."
The laughter in the congregation echoed in my head later that evening. Then I remembered one of my favorite Bible verses.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV.)
All of my ways and understanding must be surrendered to His ways, no matter what it may sound like at the time.