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NEVER ARGUE WITH A FIRST GRADER By Bill Stoner

A few months ago, I was subbing in a first-grade classroom at Lampeter. The day seemed to be going okay, nobody was sick, the plans were in place, and everyone was glad we were having pizza and celery sticks that day. Little did I know, or even suspect that a colossal error would be made that day. And guess who made it? Me, the teacher, the person who is supposed to know all things, who comforts the uninformed with wit and wisdom, bringing reassurance to their fragile little hearts. So, what was it, what did I say that brought ridicule to my fragile ego and to the very truths that I espoused so freely?

It was about an hour into the morning and I told the class that they needed to get out their computers. Well, you would have thought I just told the funniest joke of all time. Every boy and girl seemed to think that I was trying to be funny (usually when I am trying to be funny, they just stare at me). Finally, one of the kids yells out “Mr. Stoner, we don’t have computers, we have iPads.” At that point I tried to explain to them that an iPad was just another kind of computer (big mistake…….!). After my explanation, they continued to snicker, thinking that I told them a whopper of a story for entertainment purposes (which I confess, I have done in the past). Then I realized, this wasn’t worth it. That morsel of knowledge could wait another day; for so I decided that “Today we use iPads, and when we get older, we will use computers”.

This story reminds me of all the times that my heavenly Father has told me something which seemed far-fetched or simply unattainable, and so I would dismiss Him outright. But believe me, I never laughed out loud at Him and I never said, “Oh God, I don’t have that kind of faith”. No, I just sort of ignored Him for as long as I could. I still remember the time God wanted me to spend more time in Bible Study. It was early in my ministry when I was carrying a lot of responsibility. I was working a 30 hour a week job, attending college, overseeing a local boys club, helping in my church, and raising a family. How in the world could I find any more time to study the Scriptures? (Do you see the irony in that?). Then one day I was reading Romans 14 about judging another brother by what he eats. God made it very clear (through Paul) that we are to accept any brother, whether their faith was strong or weak.  God then took me to the end of that chapter to show me this verse, “But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

At that point I realized what God was trying to say. Everything that you do, if it is not done in faith, is useless. It is expendable, it can be tossed. It has no eternal value. The Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. Yes, I was being obedient by taking care of my family, serving in the church and the local boys club, but each of those responsibilities are tied into faith and faith only comes from God’s Word. Why did God want me to spend more of my time studying the Word of God? Because He knew that was the only way I would grow in my faith and to encourage others to follow Him. Trusting in God, having faith in God, is the basis for all we do and believe. And so, God took me from the iPad to the computer during a very crucial time, I just wish I had been as patient with God, as the first graders were with me!