During one of our devotion times I began to share with my class what happens when you hold on to unforgiveness and the ripple effect that sin has in our lives. This is a pretty deep topic for 5th graders and it stirred up amazing conversation.
How do you have a topic like this pierce a young person's heart and make it become real to them?
The answer to that came in this Holy Spirit inspired idea. To make this really hit home for ALL of us, we decided that we would wear our backpacks on our backs (all day long!) the next Friday as a physical representation of the burden of sin.
Friday came, we emptied our backpacks, put them back on again, and began our day. As it progressed, I began to periodically stop and mention some kind of sin that was relevant to a 5th grader's life...having a bad thought about someone, not being a good friend, or even peeking at someone else's paper. All of these "sins" could easily happen at any moment in their lives. Each time we did this, we added weight to our backpacks.
As you could imagine, what started out as a clean slate (empty backpack) was quickly filling up and weighing us down. It got heavy and uncomfortable. And heavier and more uncomfortable.
Isn't that exactly what unconfessed sin does? Makes us burdened and uncomfortable.
Throughout the day students and teachers alike asked us why we were wearing our backpacks. What a great opportunity to share what God was doing!
And as our burdensome Friday was finally wrapping up I couldn't just let them dump out their sin. We took each item out and we learned how to specifically "own" each thing that we did wrong AND ask forgiveness for each of these.
We literally unpacked our baggage.
What a life lesson! I couldn't wait to hear what these precious students learned through this challenge and here are some of their thoughts:
"I learned how much sin we have every day."
"I learned that if you keep sinning and not doing anything about it, it weighs you down."
"I learned that I need to ask forgiveness more often!"
My hope and prayer for my class is that this real-life example would make a lifelong impression on their hearts (and on you who read this as well!) So, I will end how I started by asking this same question...What's in YOUR backpack?