This lesson emphasizes placing our hope and peace in what is far beyond ourselves…God has put a sense of “eternity in our hearts,” yet we often drown that out with our busy-ness and noise. Using inspiration from books and stories, children will be stirred to recall that they are made for more than just earthly delight.
Note: This lesson can be expanded into a series or collection following stories and parables, if desired. Also, see addendum for references to Christian authors on the topic.
Lesson focus: Earth is not truly our home; God has placed in our hearts a sense of hope and desire because we are made for Him.
Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:11, Daniel 4:3, John 16:33 and 18:36, 2 Corinthians 10:3, Hebrews 6:19
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Pictures of fantasy-like settings or favorite places; several books or stories; yarn or string; beading; note cards.
Start off with some enticing pictures and music…if possible, display on a computer screen, or simply post/pass around pictures of exciting places. It might be a beach or mountain…or Disneyland! Play some inspiring music to accompany the pictures and ask students why thinking about such things is fun. Then show some pictures (or actual books) of fairy tales or classic stories. Ask students about favorite tales and what makes them so special. Why do we love reading stories? What makes fairy tales so magical? Books are wonderful, and God has given us the greatest book of all in the Bible. Stories can teach us valuable lessons. In fact, Jesus told special stories to teach people things; they are called parables. But literature can also transport us to faraway realms and worlds. Why is that so appealing?
Explain that today we will consider the glory of God’s heavenly kingdom, and talk about our deep inner longing for it. God has placed us on earth but He created us for eternity, for a Heavenly dwelling with Him. We live and work and play here for now, but in good times and bad we have a hope and an eager anticipation for a greater life after this one. Let’s take a look at some special verses that remind us about this…
Today’s Bible exploration involves a bit of book interaction. Set out several classic tales around the room, and place verse references inside them on sticky notes or note cards. Have students find their favorite book and pull the reference note out. Then take the verse to their Bibles and look it up. For younger students, provide the verse itself or an abridged version of it (or even a picture for very young ones). Possible verses to have include (but certainly are not limited to) the following:
It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
3 How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?” -Daniel 4:3; 34-35
God’s world is bigger than anything we can imagine or contain.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. -Ecclesiastes 3:11-14
We work and enjoy as much as possible while we live, but everyone—EVERYONE—has a sense of Heaven at heart.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” -John 18:36
Jesus has overcome our challenges and created a kingdom for us, different from and better than our world.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Our lives belong to God. Therefore, our hearts and hopes are to be given over to Him. This means that we know God is most important beyond anything we want or enjoy.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. -Romans 8:23-25
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. -Hebrews 6:19-20
There are plenty of fun things that we like and look forward to, but sometimes life is not so fun. In all things it is important to remember that Jesus is our hope. Hope means good things will come…now or later. Heaven is our true home and though we have never seen it, we wait eagerly for it.
Craft: ID badge reminders…have kids create a special necklace or bracelet (or maybe pin for boys) with a verse from today’s lesson. Let them choose a favorite point and write on a small card. Attach that to a string and decorate with extra elements if desired. This will be their special “tag” to remind them that they are not of this world.
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Thank Him for giving us Jesus and for giving our lives special meaning. Ask Him to help direct our paths and show what His purpose for us is. Thank God for creating us and making us for Heaven.
Consider including (or reading) the works of some great Christian authors. C.S. Lewis (creator of the beloved Chronicles of Narnia) wrote his great fiction works in part based on a particular connection to a sense of longing that we feel as Christians, and as human beings. See in particular such works as Mere Christianity, The Weight of Glory, and of course the Narnia books.
Creatures are not born for desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. … If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world….
G.K. Chesterton is another author who has hinted at fairy tales and elements of hope and other-worldliness. And of course, no list of greats would be complete without the creator of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien, who strove to weave spiritual themes into his fictional tales. What is it about having initials as a first name??