An Inexhaustible List
Updated: Oct 16, 2021
Friday - October 15th
Scripture to Read Today: Psalm 100:1-5
Enter his gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
My home church in Northern Indiana gave me incredible opportunities to teach children during my high school years. One of my regular teaching settings was the kindergarten through second grade Sparks group in our church's weekly Awana Club. Then, during my sophomore year, I had an idea to engage with the kids in a brief teaching on being thankful (the week before Thanksgiving).
The idea came from watching an old Addams Family rerun. The ghoulish sitcom about a heartwarming yet creepy family included a hand without a body known as "Thing." Thing was in a wooden box sitting on a table. Thing brought the family the mail daily and specifically brought items the Addams Family father, Gomez, requested. The hand would come up out of the box on request, "hear" the request, make a gesture to wait one moment, drop back into the box, and return with scissors, the phone, or some other requested household item.
I recruited my friend, Kevin Warstler, to help me with my lesson for the kindergarten, first, and second-grade kids. First, we put two tables together but left them about a foot apart. We then put two boards spanning the small gap between the tables. Placing tablecloths on the tables and the boards made the tables look like one table with a hole in the middle. Next, we put a wooden box with no bottom over the hole. It looked like the box used by "Thing" on The Addams Family show.
With about fifty boys and girls present, I took a few minutes to talk about a verse or two from Psalm 100. Then, as I taught why we should be thankful to God for everything we have in life, I asked the kids to list things they were grateful for. Then, I knocked on the box and introduced them to my guest, "Mr. Hand." Mr. Hand was my friend Kevin's hand. Each time a child mentioned an item they were grateful for, Mr. Hand would gesture that he would find something and disappear into the box.
While the hand was gone, I asked the kids why they were thankful for their listed item. Kevin used a flashlight and sorted through nearly 100 items we had collected that we thought would represent everything the kids might list in our gratitude lesson. Mr. Hand would return triumphant with something that represented what the kids had mentioned. I would celebrate with the kids that Mr. Hand had been successful, discussed the item, and placed it on the tablecloth-covered table.
If a boy or girl said they were grateful for their family, we had a picture of a family in a frame. We matched the suggestion of food with a couple of apples and oranges in a basket. Being thankful for the sun triggered Mr. Hand to bring up a lightbulb. Mentioning a pet produced a stuffed dog. I think you get the idea. The kids loved it. They listed dozens and dozens of things for which we should be grateful. It was a huge success, and Kevin (Mr. Hand) hammed it up big time with the kids.
After reading Psalm 100 today, list the things for which you are grateful to God on a piece of paper. While this kind of list can never be finished, it is an excellent exercise to gain perspective! Give it a try. Start that inexhaustible list!
By the way, my friend Kevin Warstler completed a Ph.D. in Old Testament AND New Testament studies. He teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary and is a critical part of any modern Bible translation team. Kevin is a sought-after Hebrew and Greek scholar. He has come a long way from playing Mr. Hand and crawling around in the dark under cloth-draped tables!
If we were given the task of listing all the things we can be thankful for, we would never complete the list.