These days, my life, as it is for most parents of young children, is basically informed by two things: the Bible and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood . If you are not familiar with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood , it is the spiritual successor to the classic children’s program, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood . It’s a cute, PBS show based off of Fred Roger’s puppet friends with marked differences. Tiger’s Neighborhood is animated, moves at a much faster pace, and has some quasi-psychedelic music videos thrown in for good measure. Each episode has a theme and may present a useful lesson – usually in the form of a repeating jingle.
We do not have a ton of “screen time” in our house, but we purchases one episode to have on our phone for travel emergencies when our kids have read all the books we brought for them. This particular episode is about trying new food, which has been quite helpful at times. Our daughter, Ella Mac, has always had a healthy appetite. However, she has recently settled on the fact that the stable of foods that she likes is full. She does not want to try anything new. This is where Daniel Tiger’s jingle comes in handy. We often remind Ella Mac at the dinner table of Daniel Tiger’s saying, “You need to try new foods because they might taste good.” Be glad that you cannot hear the jingle or it may be stuck in your head all day. Eventually, with some encouragement, of course, Ella Mac will try the new food; and when we look away, she eats more of that new food after discovering that it tastes good. It is funny to me that at four-years old one can already be set in their ways and resistant to change.
More often than not, we are stuck in our ways. At some point, we decide we enjoy certain things and not others. Maybe you tried something once and it did not seem like a fit. Maybe you perceived that you were not good at it. Naturally, we like to do things that we know we can do well. There is certainly some wisdom about focusing on your strengths; however, I wonder if we often sell ourselves short about our ability to engage in real opportunities all around us?
I believe the reason we are so averse to trying new activities or stretching ourselves is because we lack power. That is a faith issue! Isaiah, the prophet, reminds us of God’s power to stretch us outside of our comfort zone: “ And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them ” (Isaiah 42:16). The beauty of Isaiah’s instruction is that God not only stretch us in our abilities, but he is also the one who sustains and strengthens us throughout it all! Do not be afraid to try something because you once did not like it or you may not like it this time. Dependency on God is a good thing. It is what we need.
I want to challenge you to stretch yourself by finding a ministry that may be outside of the ministry area in which you usually serve. You should engage your calling – even if it is outside of your comfort zone. To adapt Daniel Tiger’s little jingle – maybe you should try new things because it might be good. I look forward to seeing what you try in the year ahead.
Expecting His Best,
Stephen V. Allen
Senior Pastor