For three solid weeks, we taught our younger elementary classroom about the details of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. We were entrenched in Old Testament details. We taught the kids about each piece of furniture and each station in the sacrificial system--the table where the Bread of the Presence would sit each day, the lamp stand, the altar, the sea for ceremonial washing, and the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies. The curriculum we were using covered Exodus 25-27 thoroughly. And we complained.
I considered changing curriculum providers at the end of the quarter. We could not grasp why teaching this to 7 to 9 year olds was beneficial. When we taught the old method of gaining access to God and receiving forgiveness for sins through sacrificing a lamb, one girl lit up. She looked at us and said, “I wish we could still do that.” We were shocked! Why would a 9 year-old want to kill a lamb? Had we somehow missed the gospel in all of the details?
It caused some initial panic, but this was gospel opportunity. We pulled her aside with her parents after class, and she simply said, "I want to be forgiven of my sins." She was very emotional. She could not handle talking about her sin—particularly the way that she was treating her little brother. It was overwhelming to her. She wanted to kill a lamb and have done with it. We explained how Jesus has already paid the sacrifice she longed for. He has done it once and for all. On that day, she didn’t want to receive our comfort. And we didn’t force her to continue. But the Holy Spirit was at work. She's now a believer, a faithful member of our student ministry, and a regular volunteer in our children's ministry.
Teaching children sometimes seems mundane, and it is. Every week, faithful Sunday school teachers dig into the gritty details of Jesus' parables, David's battles, the prophets' visions. And, yes, tabernacle furniture, too. When you've been doing that for a while, it's easy to get discouraged. I'm tempted to complain about the difficulty instead of letting the Bible warm my heart. And even when I'm personally encouraged, I can start to doubt any of it's getting through to the kids. But here is what God says:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
But even when our confidence wanes, God is at work in the details. He taught a 9 year-old girl in our children's ministry about her sin through detailed lessons about the sacrificial system. You can trust he's at work in your lessons as well.