“Let’s give the kids bread and water this week,” I told Mrs. Tommie, one of the Wednesday night pre-school teachers. I was texting so I wrote, “I know you just rolled your eyes!”
Bread and water sounds like they were being punished but they weren’t! It went along with our lesson. We have been studying about Elijah for the past few weeks. (The stories are recorded in 1 Kings 17.)
King Ahab did not love or obey God. (In reality, he was terribly evil. Not only did he not love God, but he worshiped Baal. In our Bible story book there is a picture of him bowing before a statue with a cow’s head. I tell them that King Ahab did not love God but loved a statue. Even our preschoolers know that’s pretty dumb.) God sent the prophet Elijah to tell him there would be no rain for a long time. (Baal was the one Ahab believed made it rain.) King Ahab was NOT happy about that! God told Elijah to go to the ravine (we didn’t use that word) and there would be water and food to eat. Elijah drank from a brook (we called it a “creek”) and then ravens or blackbirds brought him bread and meat two times a day. Two times a day – I say. Those were good lessons about how God provided for Elijah and He will take care of us, too.
This week’s story was the next part of 1 Kings 17. After the brook dried up, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath. (We said that a couple of times.) When Elijah got there, he met a widow who was picking up sticks. Elijah called to her, “Could you bring me a drink of water?” That’s what I pictured our kiddies doing! I would have a pitcher of ice cold water and would get each one of them to say in a scratchy, really thirsty voice, “Could you give me a drink of water?” I laughed as I texted it, knowing Mrs. Tommie would think I was off my rocker. It would be sooo cool! And then they would remember it maybe forever!
In the same breath, Elijah said, “And please bring me a piece of bread.” That’s when the true story took a sad turn for a moment. The widow stopped in her tracks. “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Don’t worry, I didn’t tell the children that part! I just said she told him they didn’t have enough to share. Whew!
I could just see in my head all of our preschoolers saying in a scratchy, really hungry voice, “Could you bring me a piece of bread, too?” (I’m saying it myself as I type!)
Things I picture in my head are not always what transpires. I’m fairly certain that especially the two-year olds thought the lesson had something to do with butter. Mrs. Tommie-the queen of snacks- brought butter and jam to put on our bread. The kids were thrilled! (It wasn’t mentioned in the Bible, but they quite possibly might have had butter and jam!) I had to tell the story at least three times between calls for “More butter!” I eventually had to explain that the butter was just ON the bread and they were supposed to eat the bread, too. It was difficult for them to grasp. I cracked up!
They did love the ice cold water, though. Who knew?!
The end of the story is that the widow did share bread and water with Elijah and her supplies never ran out! Her little bit of flour and little bit of oil kept going and going and going! We talked about being kind and sharing, though no one wanted to share their butter!
We sang about God taking care of us before we left.
It’s a good place to be when you’re little and know that even though we can’t see Him, God is watching over us and is big enough to take care of us! Sometimes, as adults, we make things so complicated.
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.