Sunday, March 26, 2017

When a Group of 4-Year-Olds Lead a Game of Musical Chairs

During the day as a preschool teacher, I witness many hilarious moments as preschoolers interact with each other. It’s funny to watch them learn, grow, and solve problems through their four- and five-year old understanding of the world and how it operates. This past Thursday, my kids were playing musical chairs. There were three groups of kids playing their own version of musical chairs.

Group 1 – A group of boys was playing musical chairs together, and they were interested in playing by the rules. Therefore, they asked me to dictate when to stop, so that they could properly eliminate a player each time. Most of the boys had fun, and there weren’t any major fall-outs (minus one boy who was angry that there weren’t even chairs for everyone…he was still learning the point of the game…)

Group 2 – A group of girls decided they wanted to play after watching the boys. However, they didn’t want my involvement in the game. One girl decided she would be in charge. She was deciding when everyone would stop and find a seat, but she was also a player in the game! Therefore, she won the game every time. Her friends didn’t understand how she kept winning… Go figure! (After a few rounds of her winning, I walked over and asked how they were determining when to stop. The girls told me that a certain girl was dictating that. After I asked that question, that girl started letting other girls win the game… J She realized that I caught on to her winning strategy.)

Group 3 – All of the boys, but one decided that they wanted to play something else. So, that one boy asked if he could play musical chairs by himself… I tried to explain to him how that wouldn’t really work because he would always win! He laughingly put the last chair away because he understood that he couldn’t play alone, but he liked the thought of winning every time!

As I was watching their comical attempts to carry out a game of musical chairs, I thought about the issue with Groups 2 and 3. The main issue was… CONTROL. The girls didn’t want my involvement because then the girl in charge wouldn’t be in control anymore. She wouldn’t be able to control when the game stopped and started; thus, she may actually get out during the game (which isn’t what she wanted). Therefore, Group 2 would rather play a rigged, unfair game of musical chairs instead of playing it correctly. Why? Because the leader didn’t want to risk losing. The boy in Group 3 was trying to be funny because He understood that of course he would win every time if he played the game alone, but he saw the lack of competition as an opportunity for him to finally win! In each of these groups, there was a struggle for control.

A struggle for control is my long-time enemy. I think I want control. I make decisions so that I can be in control. I worry over situations when I’m not in control. I try to control things that are completely out of my control, and so then I just stress and worry about those situations even more when I realize that my attempts to control are pointless. I try to control situations in my daughter’s life because I want her to make the right choices and I don’t want her to come into harm’s way. I try to control my marriage. I may try to submit to my husband, but then I nag or worry in ways that can hopefully give me some influence (aka control) in certain situations. I want to control major life decisions our family. I pray about those decisions, but then I try to take back the reins or I just hold onto the worry from the unknown. Can anyone else relate to the struggle for control???

Let’s take a look at Psalm 16. This is one of my all-time favorite Psalms because it reminds me that my focus should be on the Lord.

Psalm 16
            Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
            I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
                        I have no good apart from you.
            As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
                        in whom is all my delight.
            The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
                        their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
                        or take their names on my lips.
            The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
                        you hold my lot.
            The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
                        indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
            I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
                        in the night also my heart instructs me.
            I have set the LORD always before me;
                        because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
            Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
                        my flesh also dwells secure.
            For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
                        or let your holy one see corruption.
            You make known to me the path of life;
                        in your presence there is fullness of joy;
                        at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

When I find myself struggling with wanting to control things that are not mine to control, I am reminded of this Psalm. Let’s see what we can learn from these uplifting verses:
-       God is in control. He is the one who “holds my lot.” That’s much better news that if I controlled my own lot.
-       God is a place of refuge. When I feel anxious are worried about circumstances in my life, I need to remember that God, who is good, holds my lot, and that He is a place of refuge for my weary and anxious soul.
-       God reveals to us what we need to know. The psalmist said that God made known to Him the path of life. He also wrote that the Lord gave Him counsel. Whatever was going on in the psalmist’s life during the time he penned this psalm, he confessed that God made known the paths of life to Him. God will do the same for us, maybe not in our desired timeframe and maybe not the exact answers we hoped for, but He will reveal to us what He desires for us to know. We can trust that He has our good and His glory at heart.
-       There is joy in God’s presence. Even in the midst of uncertainty, we can still have joy. Why? Because if we are close to the Lord and in the midst of His presence, we can find joy in Him, even if our circumstances are not pleasant.
-       The best thing that we can have is a relationship with God. To know God is our greatest treasure. Therefore, even when times are uncertain or difficult, we can still confess with the psalmist that we have no good apart from our God. It is better to dive into knowing God more intimately rather than attempting to control things that are not for us to control.

-       READ/STUDY: Read through Psalm 16 again. Also, read Proverbs 3:1-8.
-       EVALUATE: What verses in Proverbs 3 stand out to you? How does the Lord challenge us through these two passages to trust Him, rather than trust in ourselves? In what areas of your life do you struggle to relinquish control? What is the root issue of your desire for control?
-       PRAY: Ask the Lord to enable you to trust Him and His control even when your flesh desires to control circumstances in your own life. Ask Him to show you the areas in your life that you need to submit to His lordship. Ask Him to give you peace as you desire to trust Him with the unknowns in your life.

When my students were attempting to control the game of musical chairs, it was quite comical to me. It wasn’t comical to them; the girl who was in charge thought she was pretty smart! But to me, I knew it was silly (and unfair!). When we try to control things in our lives, it must seem pretty silly to the Lord because He knows that we aren’t really in charge and He knows that if we were in charge, we’d most likely make a huge mess of things. Why? Because we aren’t sovereign, we’re not always good, and we are not infinitely wise. We don’t always have the glory of God as our aim. God, however, is sovereign, always good, infinite in wisdom and power, and always His glory as His aim. So, it is much better if He’s in control, not us! Praise Him for his goodness as He leads and guides us. Praise Him that He is patient with us, even when we foolishly grasp for control. Praise Him that we can say with the psalmist that we have no good apart from our God and that we find immense joy in knowing Him! I pray that you are able to trust Him more as you seek to trust His plan for your life instead of your own!

Always, Jacquelyn

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