God Never Stops Hugging You

Once a month during the school year we have a program called “First Wednesday.” On the (you guessed it!) first Wednesday of the month, we switch up our midweek Bible study and do a topical study with three different age groups. Staff members come and teach while we “beef” things up with games, music, and a dress-up theme. This year, we’re studying the Attributes of God. I do music, games, and the lesson with the 4s, 5s and Kindergarteners each month. As I prepare for my lesson, I always think about the one thing I want them to walk away with. What is the one thing they should remember, even if they don’t pay attention to anything else I say?

In October, we were studying that God is love. I used Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As I studied these verses, I decided that what I wanted them to remember is that God’s love is unbreakable. I wanted them to know that God’s love is safe. It isn’t going anywhere. I built the rest of my lesson on that. I held up a pencil and asked if they thought I could break it, then I broke it. I used this illustration to tell them that the pencil was breakable, and that God’s love is not. I had each of them link arms with a partner and told them not to let me break them apart. Another volunteer and I pretended to try to break them apart, but they all stayed together!

A few minutes later, I asked them what we learned about God’s love. I was looking for “God’s love is unbreakable!” One little boy raised his hand and said, “God never stops hugging us.” I was momentarily speechless. This was technically a “wrong” answer, but it was more profound than what I wanted. As most of you know, to 4s, 5s and Kindergarteners, a hug is the most special way to show someone you love them. It’s what they get from their parents when they’re scared or hurt. It’s the way they greet their friends and family. A hug is safe. To this little boy, God was hugging him and was never going to stop. I told him that I loved that answer and asked someone else what they learned. A different little boy raised his hand and said, “God never stops hugging us!”

I realized what they would remember, and I didn’t care that it wasn’t what I had planned. God hugging them was more personal to them than “unbreakable.” This was something they could see and feel and know. Often, we forge ahead after the right answers without stopping to consider the “wrong” ones. Sometimes, there are answers that are legitimately wrong. But sometimes, if we give space for them, there are “wrong” answers that are more important than the right ones. From those boys’ answers I learned more about God’s love for me and understood more personally what Romans 8:38-39 says.

A month later, we were reviewing the attributes we had already studied. When asked what we learned about God’s love, a third little boy raised his hand and said, “God never stops hugging me.” At this point, I was in the midst of an unexpected trial and needed this reminder myself. Christ’s sacrifice was God’s ultimate expression of love and because of it, God will never stop loving me. He will not let me go. God’s love is safe.

I encourage you to make space for “wrong” answers. Take the time to acknowledge them and if needed, pivot a lesson to address them. It might just be what God uses to bring healing to your own heart.

Camille Honan is the Children’s Ministry Director at Grace Evangelical Church in Germantown, Tennessee. She graduated from Mississippi State University (Hail State!) with a degree in Elementary Education. After 3 years in the classroom, the Lord called her to Grace Evan and to full-time children’s ministry. Camille loves to read and learn and can often be heard saying, “I was reading this book and it said…” Camille is passionate about partnering with parents to train their children to worship, serve and enjoy Jesus. She and her husband have two toddlers who keep them both pretty busy, but she loves being a wife and a mom.