Prop: a half full tumbler of water (needs to be clear glass – not a plastic or paper cup).
If a younger child might be your volunteer, you may want to take steps in anticipation of a spill or the glass being dropped – such as a towel on the floor underneath to use in mopping up spills, and to serve as a soft landing spot.
You can begin the lesson by pointing out – in a humorous way – that this is not a lesson about “Is the glass half full, or half empty?”
Ask for a volunteer to come and hold the cup. Have them hold it at arm’s length, sideways to the audience if possible, so that the water level and any dip of the arm are plainly visible to the congregation.
Ask “How heavy is this glass of water?”
(Solicit Answers, observe the volunteer’s arm – is it drooping?)
The actual weight doesn’t matter. What matters is how long you hold it. If <the volunteer> holds it by themselves for a short time, it feels light. If they were to hold it for an hour, they’d have a sore arm. If they hold it for a whole day, their arm will feel numb and painful. They could even seriously injure themselves if they hold it too long.
Long before that, I think they’ll drop it and run away! The weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the point is: the longer they hold it, the heavier it becomes.
The challenges of life are like this glass of water. Carry them by yourself for only a short while and it’s not too bad. Worry about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if we carry them all day long, or longer, we will get to the point where we think of nothing but the pain of holding them.
Now ask for a second person to help hold the glass, then ask the original volunteer if this makes it easier.
Jesus knew that we cannot carry burdens forever, even light ones, and also knew how harmful and limiting it can be if we try. So, our faith does not ask us to do this. So, God will not demand that we hold on to those things that are beyond our ability to carry. Instead, we are asked to put them down; or to share such burdens with God and with others, so that they are lighter and do not drag us down.
Copyright (c) 2016, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)