How can God speak to us through natural items?
Collect conkers and pinecones, acorns, apples, leaves, pumpkins, candles. If you can’t find any, print out some pictures.
It's Autumn in October for us, but if you're in a different country, or you use this activity during a different season just adapt it to make it relevant.
Put your collection of autumnal items (or pictures) out on the table.
Call it your Nature Table.
Gather around and touch the objects, feel their textures, smell them, or simply admire the pictures, shapes or their colours. Use your senses to thank God for his creation.
Once you're set up, start with these two questions to introduce the activity.
- What do you think God loves about the season of Autumn? Discuss what impressions and thoughts come to mind. Pray and ask him, see if he says. This is just a practice to get into a habit of asking God for his thoughts and opinions. Be expectant that he will share his heart, but remember it's ok when we aren't sure. We are practicing to hear his whispers after all. I asked Little Dash this, he said, "Because God loves pinecones?" We had a good giggle.
- Share together what you like or don't like about the season.
Ask your cubs these questions around the Nature table:
The following questions may be more suited for 8+ but I always like to introduce ideas and discussions like these to my little ones. I have had these discussions with my 5 year old and the imagery works well for him. Use it as a teaching opportunity if they can't answer themselves. You're encouraging them to see God's reflection in his creation.
- Which items remind you of what God is like (or not like)?
e.g. He is refreshing like the cool air. He is gentle and tender with us like a smooth conker. He doesn't change or die like the leaves but he is colourful like them. He loves our differences. Jesus didn't stay dead like the dying plants, but he came back to life.
- How does the season of Autumn reminds us of what God does for us (or which items remind you of what God does for us)?
e.g. He broke off our spiky old self and has brought new life, just like a conker. Jesus came to earth from Heaven (like the leaves falling down). He provides what we need just like the fruit trees providing. He directs our paths and his goodness covers the earth like a canvas of colourful leaves covering the ground.
- Pick an Autumnal Object/Picture. Hold it, look at it, then close your eyes and ask God who you could give it to, a friend, a neighbour. When you think of someone ask Holy Spirit why do you want them to have it? What is it you want to say to them? He might want to encourage who they are or what he has done for them, or how he loves them using the object.
Head over to the Store for some helpful encouragement cards to go with this activity.
1 Corinthians 14:3 - But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them
- Pick someone round the table (or it can be someone else that you think of) - And then choose an autumnal object (you’re just switching the order of what comes to mind first) and ask Holy Spirit “How is this person like this item?” Repeat the same exercise above but do it face to face (or write it down). Keep it clear and easy to understand and make sure it's encouraging, comforting or strengthening.
- Put 5 or 6 objects in a hat/bag (preferably no painful spiky objects) - Ask your cubs to close their eyes and put their hand in and feel the objects. Ask them to pick one. But before they bring it out they have to guess what it is.
Next with the same objects - ask them to close their eyes. Pick an item yourself from the bag and knock it/pat it on the table. This time they have to guess what it was. Much harder.
Lastly, pick an object from the bag and don't show it in any way. Have them think, pray or guess what it is you've chosen. Almost impossible!
Ask them which was easiest, seeing the objects on the table, feeling the objects in the bag or listening to the objects on the table, or knowing the object in their thoughts?
Sometimes God speaks to us in a way that is clear and familiar -
Ask: Which way was easier for you?
And sometimes we have to work a little harder -
Which was a bit harder?
Sometimes, we have to work a lot harder to find out what it is he is talking about. God wants us to follow his whispers and ask him questions because it draws us closer to him. The more we seek and ask the more we will know his voice and his heart. Sometimes we see pictures in our minds or see things physically that jump out at us. Sometimes we feel things, emotions, textures, physical touches, that God uses to speak to us. Sometimes we hear things, his whisper of a voice, or sounds around us, music etc. Sometimes we think things, he speaks to us in our thoughts. This is often the hardest to discern because it can often seem that we are just thinking but God's thoughts will most often surprise us or feel deeper that they've come 'out the blue' or with a sense of peace. However God speaks to us, it's most important that we learn to trust him and ourselves, and this comes through practice.
Sometimes it may feel like a huge leap of faith to take the risk and test if we are hearing his voice and he is speaking to us. But we will only learn through practice. Just like the guessing games, we can get things wrong and that's ok! We are human after all, not God himself.
Be encouraged we will hear him
John 8:47 - [Jesus said] Whoever belongs to God, hears the words of God.
John 10:27 - [Jesus said] My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
Have fun, build confidence and celebrate the little steps!