I taught the children’s Sunday School class last week, and though I accepted the task with fear and trepidation, I must say I had a great time. It’s been a while since I’ve taught children, but this group of six were amazing. We were talking about the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, and after about five minutes of talking, one of the children raised his hand.
“Yes, Joel?” I asked him.
“This is about the time in our class that Mr. Larry always takes a break and brings out snacks,” he said in all seriousness.
“Thank you for letting me know that,” I replied, and then went on to tell him I was not Mr. Larry and there would be no snacks until after our lesson. He accepted the reply and I continued with the story.
I love children. No fear. No harm in asking.
However, there is something else I enjoyed about our time together. We added up the years that Paul spent on each of his journeys. Depending on your source, they added up to nine or ten years. I asked which of the children were that old. One raised his hand. I told them that Paul traveled all the years of his life! His eyes got big as he thought about it. What a long journey that must have been.
Teaching others, especially those younger in the faith, draws you back to the joys of digging deep in the Word and sharing its treasures with others. As I reflect on that thirteenth chapter of Acts once again, I am drawn to a special moment for Paul (Saul) and Barnabas, as they gathered with the church in Antioch.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
It wasn’t enough just to encourage them and pray for them, to give them financial or spiritual support, the church had to lay their hands on them. Touch is important in life. We all need someone to pat us on the back from time to time, saying we’re doing a good job. An email just isn’t enough. The hug of a friend is a reminder that they feel for us, understand us, are really connected with us at our point of need.
It is the same for the church. The pastor called, missionary sent, not only with the prayers of the church but with their touch, goes with confidence and a physical reminder that they are not alone in the journey.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had hands touching my back or shoulders as prayers poured out for my next step in ministry. My church has been a wonderful model of the importance of touching and praying for those going in ministry as well as for those hurting and seeking strength for their struggles.
Jesus models this for us all, with the tired, the wounded, the disciples, the sinners, and the children.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)
Do you need the touch of the Family of God in your life? Encourage your church or your Bible study group to take up the call of active, hand-involved prayer. God will move and begin something new in your midst.
Does someone you know need to be encouraged, empowered, or healed? You will both find blessing as you become the hands, the touch of Jesus in their life.
Grace and Peace