I once spent a year teaching in Children's Church with first and second graders. The kids were old enough to carry on a decent conversation, and it was at 11:00, which is about the time my mind enters full gear, so all was well in my Sunday morning world.
After that year, a decision was made to eliminate Children's Church at 11:00, as our service times were changing and an 8:30 worship service was added. The thinking was that adding an additional service would require more children's workers for the younger kids while their parents were in the new service.
While Children's Church had only been offered at 11:00 for a year, a Preschool Worship had been available for 2 or 3 years, so it was decided that Preschool Worship should continue at 11:00.
In the week following the announcement of that decision, countless people asked me if a Preschool Worship would be offered at 8:30. I looked at them as though they had lost their minds. Are you kidding? 8:30 a.m - when on Sunday mornings in particular, my brain is still wondering why my body isn't still sleeping?
"I can't imagine," I responded. "Who in their right mind would agree to do it?"
I walked away from all of those conversations still repeating the line to myself, "I can't imagine."
The following Sunday, as I went into worship, the Divine Miss M, our Preschool Associate at the time, stopped me and asked if she could talk to me for a second. (The Divine Miss M is very soft-spoken and not a Bette Midler type at all, but she is truly angelic enough for Divine to fit.) Miss M pulled me off to the side and told me that our pastor had decided that Preschool Worship should be offered at 8:30. The Divine Miss M was just wondering if I could think of anyone who might want to lead it. Anyone at all?
I stood there looking, I'm sure, like a deer caught in headlights and replied, "No, I can't think of anyone who would want to do that." She looked very disappointed, but I was too busy breathing a sigh of relief that her gifts were centered around children - and clearly not in sales - to think much about it.
As I walked away, I thought to myself, "What are they thinking? Are they nuts? I just can't imagine!"
By now I was entering the worship center and an usher handed me a bulletin. I looked down to see that our Administrative Pastor was filling in that Sunday and the title of the sermon was Imagine.
That was the moment that I came painfully close to cussing out loud, right there in Big Church.
There was no mistaking it. God was speaking to me and He didn't have a lot of time to mess around because the 8:30 service was going to start in 2 weeks. I have no idea what the scriptural text for the sermon was that morning because I was too busy arguing with God to hear any of it. "I don't want to do it. You know I'm not a morning person. What do I know about preschoolers? Why can't somebody else do it? Anybody else???"
I lost the argument, but came out a winner in the end as I spent the next 3 years teaching Pre-K and Kindergartners about worship. As is usually the case, the kids taught me far more than I taught them. They taught me about God's love, they taught me about worshiping God with full abandon, and they taught me not to speak too literally to 4-year-olds. (An offhand comment about putting up walls between God and ourselves led to a prolonged discussion about the color of the wall. Oops.)
And the opportunity that God brought my way when I least expected it taught me that God can fill our lives with children in ways we never imagined.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21