Since our spring break in Chattanooga is just about over, I thought I’d share a chapter (Stop #15) from my little book, Life Lessons from the School Bus.
One day I transported 80 kindergartners on a field trip to a mountain forest. Do you have any idea how loud 80 excited 5 year-olds can get when confined in a 40ft.-long steel box on wheels?
I couldn’t help overhear the advice school teachers were giving to the little crumb crunchers on the bus, then later after they unloaded. One warned, “Don’t pick anything up from the ground; you won’t be able to keep it, anyway.” Another said, “Don’t bounce on the swinging bridge; just look over the side.” Seriously? How can you tell a 5 year-old not to jump on a swinging bridge and then expect him not to jump on the swinging bridge?
SIDE NOTE: I remember when our oldest daughter, Alicia, who was around 12 or 13 at the time, went with me to visit the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky. In that old landmark is a genuine floating staircase on which Alicia decided to jump up and down. I asked, “What are you doing?” She calmly replied, “Trying to see if it will fall.” I said, “Two things…First, it’s been here since 1827 and hasn’t fallen, yet you think your scrawny self is going to break it? Second, why would you want to be on it if you could make it fall?”
Anyway… the best piece of advice from the teachers was clear enough: “Do NOT get off the trail!” But again, honestly, how many kids actually listen to instructions that make sense? I mean, you take a child that’s never been out of the suburbs to a forest with plants taller than their apartment buildings and you expect them not to run amuck? Therefore, I decided to speak up and add some clarification to the teachers’ warning. I said, “Because if you get off the trail, we might have to send the DOGS after you.”
Who knew one little girl was afraid of dogs? I didn’t! …Cry baby.
So, that got me to thinking: what would be the worst advice to give 80 children before a trip into the woods?
- Don’t worry about your lunch box; the forest is full of pretty berries.
- As long as the animal is smaller than you, go ahead and pet it. It won’t mind.
- Hey, bounce on the swinging bridge! It’s just like a trampoline.
- Of course! Rules are meant to be broken.
- Bears? What bears? This is Tennessee, kid. We don’t have bears. You’re thinking of Chicago.
- I don’t care what your mom said, poison oak is a hoax. Don’t your parents have oak furniture? Does it make you itch? See, she lied.
- Who can get closest to the edge? Let’s find out.
- Whatever you do, don’t stay on the trail. Trails are for babies.
- Snakes are overrated, misunderstood jump ropes. They want you to play with them.
Thankfully, when it comes to the wilderness of life, there is One who always gives good advice.
In his famous Psalm 23, David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” God urges us to stay on the path that He has already walked, which is why Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me.”
He knows the difference between good fruit and the forbidden kind.
- Don’t give vague instructions to children; they need specifics.
- Go check out the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky – but don’t jump on the staircase.
- Never get to the point where you are too proud to listen to instructions or advice. For example, you may have been down this road before, but your tour guide has been down it more recently. There may have been some changes of which you are unaware, like a washed out bridge or recently released bears. Oh my!
- Read Psalm 23. Was David walking alone? How could this Psalm relate to your life?