Soda Fountain of Youth: Take the Risk
Great idea gone wrong. Ever been there?
Yeah. That’s pretty much how many of my ideas go.
Great idea #247(ish):
Many years ago I was teaching a Pioneer Kids Club class on Wednesday nights. I had a relatively decent sized group of middle school kids in my class. Unchurched kids. Bus ministry kids.
Preaching church kind of kids. Mostly boys.
It was difficult to keep their attention and keep them focused during a Bible lesson. Instead of getting frustrated, ok, I did get frustrated, but I also took it as a personal challenge. Each week I set out to find some creative way to teach the lesson in a way that they couldn’t possibly be bored or distracted.
On this particular Wednesday night we were in the newly built and finished fellowship hall.
Yes, that means new sheetrock. New ceiling tiles. New carpet. Everything was brand spanking shiny white new.
The lesson? Jesus is the living water.
I set up the story.
I have a clear plastic tub filled with creek water. It has moss and cloudy yuck growing in it. I have set our Bible study chairs in a circle around the tub. The students sit in the chairs.
“Each summer many of us spend a lot of time outside. You might even spend time by a lake or river. How many of you do that?”
Pretty much every hand goes up which is what I expected. We attended a very rural country church. Hunting, fishing, and camping are more than hobbies; they’re a way of life.
“How many of you would be happy to sit here around my tub of creek water instead? I mean, it’s pretty amazing!”
A few students make smart aleck remarks about how they’d rather sit around the tub of nasty water. Finally I get them all on task identifying why they’d rather go to the river or lake than sit around my tub of water.
“The water in this tub is stagnant. It has remained still and unmoving for so long that nasty things are growing in it. Our relationship with God can be related to this tub of water. How can this tub of water be like your relationship with God?”
We discussed how sin can cause our relationship with God to grow stagnant. We talked about how when we stop praying, reading our Bible, meeting at church with fellow believers that we grow stagnant which allows sin to grow and breed within in each of us.
I shared with the students an Old Testament scripture.
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13
How many of you would rather sit in front of my tub of stagnant water instead of sitting in front of a fountain of living waters?
With the exception of the one smart aleck, all the rest would rather sit in front of a fountain of living waters. I would prefer that too, wouldn’t you?
So, we moved to the other side of the fellowship hall where I had covered a large section of the floor with a tarp. I asked the students to stand around the tarp.
Jesus Himself said that anyone who drinks the water He gives will never be thirsty again, will have a fountain of water springing up into eternal life, and rivers of living water will flow out of his heart. I shared three scriptures from John with the students.
“…but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
“I don’t know about you, but I really like the idea of never being thirsty again, having rivers of living water flowing out of my heart, and fountains of water springing up into eternal life! Can you imagine what that might look like? Which type of person do you want to be? A fountain or a stagnant pool?”
I pulled a can of generic root beer from my bag and started shaking it continually as I walked around the tarp looking at each of the students.
“Which type of water do you think will attract others to Jesus? The stagnant tub or a fountain?”
I called the name of the most rambunctious, misbehaved, steel-toed boot wearing boy to join me in the middle of the tarp. I handed him the can of root beer and looked him in the eye.
“I want you to use all of your energy to shake up this can of soda. Don’t take it off of the tarp, and hand it back to me when you’re done.”
Before I even got the last word out of my mouth, he dropped the can to the floor and kicked it as hard as he could. It slammed into the concrete support pole beside the tarp, and root beer erupted all over!
It sprayed directly onto the spotlessly clean ceiling. It soaked through the brand new carpet. It managed to drench more than a couple bystanders.
Right in the midst of our eternal soda fountain, two of our older ladies came in bearing snacks. They gasped, dropped the snacks, and never served in any capacity at Pioneer Kids Club after that.
I apologized and apologized.
We cleaned for months trying to erase the effects of that lesson on living water. If you visit that church, you’ll still see root beer on the ceiling.
I can laugh about it now. So will the majority of the members of that church. Then I was horrified by the error of my ways.
However, as I type this, I see a couple things that I imagine, or at least hope, some middle school students saw all those years ago.
1. A fountain of living water, even soda water, is way more
exciting and crowd drawing than a pool of stagnant water.
2. When a fountain erupts it gets all over everything. You can’t
stop it from happening. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to get
wet. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t planning on it. When a
fountain erupts it soaks everything around it.
Those of us who are Christians are filled with living water.
There is a fountain springing up and a river flowing out of me. I should be drawing people to Christ. I should be drenching them in His love, His mercy, His goodness.
I can not control this, if I am truly born again, any more then I could control that can of root beer after the side was split open by a harsh kick and a concrete pole.
I took a risk that night using a volatile can of generic root beer inside a brand new part of the church building. By man’s eyes on that night, my risk wasn’t worth it and my attempt to do something good failed. But hindsight is 20/20 and tonight I see something entirely different.
Perhaps it’s time to risk getting all shook up for Christ!