Heart Matters: Just for Today

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Just for Today

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I’ve been the Christian preschool director for years, and I
remember how hard we worked to make learning unforgettable for that
first class of preschoolers-coordinating fun projects and field
trips, fostering relationships, sharing stories, and organizing
monthly visits with the pastor. My son (who’s now 14) was one of
the first to attend our preschool class. Yet when I asked him what
he remembered from preschool, he looked at me blankly and asked, “I
went to preschool?”

When you minister to preschoolers, it’s easy to wonder what
difference you’re making for a lifetime…especially when your own
son doesn’t recall anything about his time there. Recently God
reminded me of the vital role our ministry plays in children’s
hearts-for today.

Karyn came to our preschool with no church background and little
understanding of God. In the first few months of school, we learned
that Karyn’s mother had terminal cancer. It seemed an unbearable
burden for a child so young.

In the fall, Karyn and her classmates learned to sing “Jesus
Loves Me.” The kids also learned about prayer and the anticipation
of Jesus’ birth. Karyn’s mother was too sick to attend our
Christmas program, but Karyn proudly showed me the present she’d
bought for her: a snow globe with a baby Jesus inside. She said she
knew she had to buy it because her mom needed Jesus now. God was at
work in Karyn’s heart.

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By spring, Karyn felt comfortable talking about God in a way
that surpassed many of her teachers. After praying at snack time,
she whispered to me, “I already talked to God this morning. I told
God I didn’t really want to clean my room.” I related well to that
prayer, and smiled as I saw how God was at work in Karyn’s
heart.

When Karyn’s mother died, I attended the funeral. During the
service, the pastor recalled how as Karyn’s mother was dying, Karyn
began singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Then she prompted the others
gathered at her mother’s bedside, “Come on, everybody, let’s all
sing.” It was only fitting, then, that everyone in the funeral home
joined in singing the simple child’s song. As I sang, I recalled
that fall when Karyn and her classmates learned the song. God used
“Jesus Loves Me” to comfort an entire funeral party; I knew he’d
also used it to comfort Karyn’s heart.

Some of Karyn’s friends from preschool came to the funeral, and
she walked with them past the casket. As she did, I heard her
explain that it was only her mom’s body in the casket; her soul was
already in heaven.

Karyn experienced her first Mother’s Day without her mom. She
wanted to make the same projects her friends made, and she was fine
with the idea of bringing her gifts to the grave site. The class
videotaped things they knew about their mothers. They revealed
special details about their moms-things like their favorite foods
and games they liked to play. When it was her turn, Karyn talked
about what she wanted to remember-her mother’s birthday; the time
she went sledding and her sister fell down; one special time when
she and her mom ate lunch together all by themselves.

I don’t know what Karyn will remember from her preschool
experience when she’s 14. But I do know I saw God at work in
Karyn’s heart when she needed it most-just for today. And that’s
something I’ll never forget.

 

Sheila Halasz is a Christian preschool director in Crystal
Lake, Illinois.

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