Back when I was a kids pastor I was always coming up with new and entertaining ways to illustrate biblical truths. One particular Sunday I had the great idea of turning stones into marshmallows to illustrate how Jesus took the sting out of death-“Where o grave is your victory, where o death is your sting?” So after leading kids worship I got up in front of the kids to explain how Jesus has conquered death but even though we all will someday die, death is no longer scary because Jesus has taken the sting out of death by making sure we get to heaven.
I then held up a small stone and talked about how it would really hurt if I threw this at someone and just knowing that it was going to hit you would be scary. Kinda of like death if we don’t know Jesus. I then turned around and without the kids knowing what I was doing, I traded the rock that was in my hand for a large marshmallow and winged it at the group of kids in a dramatic attempt to make them believe I was throwing a rock at them when in reality it was a light fluffy marshmallow- at least that was the plan.
I discovered that a large, somewhat stale, marshmallow is not all that light and fluffy, in fact it can make quite an impact if thrown like a fast ball. Just ask the kid who got it right between the eyes. whap! I’ll never forget the look on this kids’ face- a wide eyed look of horror- as he was trying to figure out if he was hurt or not after having what he thought was a rock smack him in the forehead. I quickly assured him it was only a marshmallow and that he was not injured in any way. Of course he had to be a new kid, one who had never been there before, that ended up on the receiving end of that fast pitch marshmallow- that was the last time we ever saw him.
The next service I used some fresh mini marshmallows and gently tossed them under hand to the kids, this time instead of looking at me in horror because I just scared some poor kid to death they were diving under the chairs trying to snatch up the marshmallows I threw out.
Just like I discovered that it’s not a good idea to wing stale marshmallows at unsuspecting kids I also learned, in my early days of following the Lord, that a sure way to scare people away is to throw the word at them uninvited or unexpectedly. People don’t want to be hit between the eyes with scripture, they want to see that it’s making a difference in you, they want to see that it’s real and then I you have some fresh to toss at them they’ll be scrambling to receive it.
We need to keep our marshmallows fresh, stale marshmallows are hard; we need to keep the word fresh, fresh in our minds and fresh in our hearts. If we do that it will just flow from us, we won’t have to try and muster it up and we won’t be making any ill-timed pitches. If the word in our hearts is fresh because we are constantly going to the source and getting more, we will just naturally live the word, it will become a part of us and flow from us like a river watering the seeds that are being planted by us as a result of just living out our faith before people.
Fresh water can only flow from a body of water that has a constant source of good water. Marshmallows that have been just sitting on the shelf for months are going to get stale.
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
People will want to know why you have a hope, why the lights are always on even when things around you aren’t all sunshine and roses, why you don’t get angry and lose it like you used to, why you don’t turn to the bottle to deal with the stress of life, why you don’t put your own needs before others- “Why are you such a freak, and -how can I be one?”
The world is dying of thirst and we have the water. Are you keeping it fresh? Have you chosen the discipline of reading the word? If not, you will not only not have any to share, your own souls will wither and blow away like the grass in our hay field this year. You’ll be left with a bag of stale marshmallows and no one will want to come near you lest you start throwing them.