No, this is not an opening line of a joke.
These are comments made recently by students during a 5th Grade devotional time. And, yes, they all tie together perfectly. Let me tell you how.
First, some background. We have been discussing similes and metaphors in literature class, as well as doing some analogy activities. I love it when students make connections! But, this one takes the cake. We have also been studying idioms.
One day last week, we were reading in Psalm 119 — going around the room and each reading one verse. As we did so, we paused to discuss several of the verses. One of the verses we discussed was Psalm 119:133: “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”
What a beautiful prayer and promise! But, what exactly did it mean?
We stopped and defined iniquity and dominion. Yes, iniquity is sin, and dominion is power or mastery over.
And then it began … The connections and examples starting flowing.
First, one student commented about cookies. She said that she was not being silly, and she wasn’t. She said that if you were only supposed to eat one or two cookies, but then you ate a whole bunch of them, you would feel terrible and have an awful tummy ache. Too much of a good thing could be painful just like too much of a bad thing. True.
Next, someone springboarded from the sugar rush analogy onto the snowball idea: “It’s like if you have a small snowball, but then you keep adding snow to it or if it rolls downhill, it’s going to gather more and more snow and develop into a huge snowball.” Also true!
The imagery is reminiscent of the Puritan Thomas Watson quote: “By the delay of repentance, sin strengthens, and the heart hardens. The longer ice freezeth, the harder it is to be broken.” Just like the giant snowball gathering strength as it rolls down the hill.
And then, it escalated. A student remembered the alligator. She excitedly exclaimed, “It’s like the alligator that you told us about!”
It was actually a crocodile. (I’m from Louisiana — there is a difference between the two. Ha!) But, yes, perfect example!
Earlier in the year while studying the First Great Awakening in History, I had shared with the students a selection from Jonathan Edwards’ Images of Divine Things — about a crocodile.
“#177 It is observed of the CROCODILE that it cometh of an egg no bigger than a goose egg, yet grows till he is fifteen cubits long; Pliny say thirty. He is also long-lived and grows as long as he lives. And how terrible a creature does he become, how destructive, and hard to be destroyed. So sin is comparatively easily crushed in the egg, taken in its beginning; but if let alone, what head does it get, how great and strong, terrible and destructive does it become, and hard to kill, and grows as long as it lives.”
What fitting imagery to visualize the “let no iniquity get dominion over me” verse. Using our imaginations, we can readily comprehend the truth of the destructive forces of sin in our lives if left unchecked. It was a moment of deep understanding and connection. The three analogies pictured the verse perfectly!
So there you have it — from the mouths and minds of 5th Graders. Making connections. Applying Scripture. Being warned of danger. Taking heed. Staying in the Word. Walking steady. Picturing truth — in the descriptive form of cookies, snowballs, and alligators.
Sin is no joke.
by Stephanie Boss, CCS 5th Grade Teacher