For anyone reading this who does not know me, I direct our preschool ministry at c|Life’s Forney campus. I work with the other amazing campus preschool directors to put together an exclusive weekly curriculum for our c|Life preschool. We have been working on this project for about three years. The lessons we are currently presenting were written more than two years ago, and specifically designed for the month of February. We had no way of knowing what our February 2020 sermon material would be, but God did!

Believe it or not, this happens pretty often. We are constantly texting each other on Sundays after we hear the sermon, because we are so excited that what the preschoolers learned is from the same text that the teaching pastors use for their sermons. We love it when God does that! This month has been no exception. We’ve been teaching the children that God gives us the Holy Spirit to assist us in making right and wrong choices. God wants us to make good choices, but when we don’t, he loves us anyway, no matter what. And you guessed it, we are teaching it straight from Paul’s letter to the Romans, which goes right along with the Travel Light series.

Our February storyline is about a brother and sister who walk through various life situations that a preschooler can relate to — things like cookies cooling on the counter and whether or not sister should take one after mom says, “no,” then lying about taking the cookie when mom notices some are missing. She makes the decision to lie and blame it on her brother and then feels major guilt watching him take the punishment for what she did. Her brother is then dealing with his anger, but makes the choice to talk to God before acting on it. It ultimately led to sister getting a dose of conscience and doing the right thing, coming clean to her mother about what she did and how she lied. And then the mother showed forgiveness and love, in spite of the girl’s mistakes. The end of the story portrayed a new day, a new batch of cookies, and the guilt and shame of the day before left in the past. The key in our story was that both children had to simply change the way they were thinking and turn to God. What they found was forgiveness, redemption and a brand new day.

We also played Candy Land in our classrooms as a visual demonstration of how our choices can move us forward or hold us back. Every flip of the cards gave the players an opportunity to move forward, fall backward or lose a turn. The kids found that some of the turns were fun, and some of the turns were not so fun, but each new turn gave them the chance to get back up and move forward up the board.

When playing a board game, no one ever wants to go backwards. The goal is to keep moving to the finish line where the prize awaits. No one wants to stay on the licorice spots, where you lose a turn. We want to move to the top of the board. We are more than willing and ready to leave those missed turns and backwards moves behind us in an overall quest for the promised Candy Land.

So why is it that we cannot remember that, in our game of life, our salvation is the ultimate card that has already been played on our behalf? The cross was the shortcut to the abundant life at the top of the board. There is no reason to stay stuck on the licorice dots that make you lose a turn. There is never a card played that says you have to go backwards. There will never be a game piece that leaves you stuck where you are or that sends you backwards to live in your darkness. Jesus played the winning card for you when he went to the cross. Let the Holy Spirit guide you forward with the knowledge that, no matter where you have been or what you have done, you are set free of those chains the moment Christ enters your heart. This was Paul’s encouragement to the Romans, that God’s plan was foolproof. All we have to do is trust God with our past, trust Jesus with our forgiveness, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide us to our abundant future.

And, just like we taught our preschoolers this week, when times get dark, when you look backwards, or when you flip the card that leads to feelings of condemnation, just remember that God loves you, no matter what.