I truly enjoy substitute teaching in the kindergarten classroom at Grandview Adventist Academy in Hamilton, Ontario. It gives me the opportunity to do what I love to do most with kindergartners: look at the world through the eyes of 4- and 5-year-olds.
This particular day had been going well, with only a few small disagreements and even fewer ouchies. Then I noticed Kenny, and he was anything but OK. Tears were obviously on the way.
That morning I had observed that Kenny had a toy bird’s nest with bright-yellow baby birds and a brown egg. Kenny had brought the toy from home, and he and the other children had been playing with it. But now Kenny was sitting at a table looking dejected—and the bird’s nest was nowhere in sight.
“What’s wrong, Kenny?” I asked.
“I can’t find my bird’s nest,” he replied, as tears escaped down his cheeks. “I had it right here on the table, and now I can’t find it.”
A quick sweep of the area turned up nothing, so I pulled out one of my essential tools for teaching young kids: distraction. It was recess time, and I managed to convince Kenny that the nest was in the classroom and would still be in there—somewhere— when we returned. Reluctantly he agreed to go to recess, as long as we would look for the toy when we came back inside.
As the children were lining up to go outside, I noticed Kenny’s friend Kailey standing by the door with her hands folded and her eyes closed.
“I’m going to pray, Teacher, that God helps us find Kenny’s lost bird nest,” she blurted out.
“That sounds like a good idea,” I said.
After returning from recess, it seemed that Kenny had finally forgotten about the lost nest, but the reprieve was only temporary. When it came time to go home, he remembered his missing nest, and the tears came instantly. Several students joined him in one more search, but when the bell rang the search was forgotten as the children piled into coats, hats, mittens, and backpacks. Forgotten by all but Kenny, that is. He reluctantly allowed me to help him into his coat, but then he and I continued the search. Finally I found the nest sitting on a mostly unused table in a far corner of the classroom.
“Thank You, Lord!” My relief was immense. “Kenny, look what I found!” The joy on his face was a beautiful sight to see. Then as he took the nest and held it close, he turned serious.
“How did you find it?” he asked.
“Maybe because God helped me find it. Maybe He answered Kailey’s prayer,” I said.
His eyes grew large.
“Did God use His powers to help us find my nest? Wow!” he said, then turned and danced out the classroom door.
Luke 12:6 says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” Although those little yellow birds were not real sparrows, God cares very much about the little boy who loved them. God enjoys seeing His children smile, and He took this opportunity to affirm His love and power to Kenny in a way Kenny could understand.
It’s because of experiences such as these that I love to teach, and I appreciate that Grandview provides the opportunity to talk openly about God and His love and care for each of us. Seeing the realization of God’s love through the eyes of a 4-year-old is a reminder to me of God’s care in my own life.
God wants each of us to be like little children—not afraid to stop in the middle of a crowded place to say a prayer, knowing confidently that God will answer it, yet still amazed at how the God of the universe cares about us as individuals and is willing to touch our lives with His love.
Elizabeth Fresse now resides in Lafayette, Louisiana, where she ministers as a pastor’s wife, a substitute teacher, and a foster mother. She lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, when she wrote this story. This article was published August 25, 2011.