Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite Bible verses, but first, we’re going to talk about this.
What can we do with a mandarin orange? We can eat it. We can make it into juice. We can put that juice into muffins. Maybe we can even toss it in the air and catch it. Really talented people might even be able to juggle a bunch of them at the same time. Can you imagine anything else we can do with it?
How about this … can you imagine it as a lamp?
First, cut the peel around the equator and loosen it all the way around.
When you peel the halves away, try to keep the center thingy attached to one of the halves, but if you can’t manage it, you can pluck it out and stick it back onto one of the halves.
Now, mostly fill the half with the “wick” with oil (olive oil, canola oil, any household oil) and light the wick. It might take a few tries, especially if the wick is too high above the surface of the oil.
Look at that. I made a mandarin orange into a lamp. Did you think I could do it? Is this what you imagined it would look like?
This orange lamp reminds me of … me. When I was your age, I was really, really shy. I would’ve been too shy to come up in front of church in front of everyone to listen to a children’s message — just like some of you have been, just like some kids who are sitting with their grownups right now.
But here I am. Up front. Not just listening, but talking. And sometimes dancing. And doing it happily. I couldn’t have imagined that when I was a kid. I don’t know that I ever even asked God to help me be better at being in front of people. But God kept giving me gifts and passions and starting me out small and building me up until here I am.
So here’s the Bible verse, from Ephesians 3, verse 20 (from The Message):
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
That was true for me. And I know it’ll be true for you.
Because I could turn this mandarin orange into a lamp and I’m not very amazing, but God is totally amazing. I wonder what amazing things he’s going to do with you as you grow up….
I have one more thing to show you. First, I have to cut a hole in the other half of the mandarin orange to make a lid.
Look what happens when I put the lid on.
Did you know that the peel had all these little circles? They were invisible before, but now we can see them.
That reminds me of me again. When I was your age, I had no idea I could dance. I didn’t even want to dance. I wasn’t taking lessons or anything. But as I got older, that changed, and I discovered I loved dancing and I could to it and I did it more and more, in classes and then in church, until it became a big part of how I serve and worship God. I didn’t know it was there … but God did.
I wonder what’s already inside of you that you have no idea about … but God does.
I wonder what God imagines for you.
I can’t wait to see.
This is the text of the children’s message I gave at my church on January 5, 2014.