As another year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) comes to a close, I feel a strange mixture of emotions. I feel relief because it’s over and I survived (it’s not quite as easy as it used to be for this soon-to-be 60-year old)! I am joyful because things went reasonably well and we had a good time. I am thankful for all those precious children who have had the opportunity to hear and learn about our awesome, amazing God. But as I think about our week of VBS, I also grow a bit reflective.
There’s just something about summertime VBS that takes me back to my own childhood and to a little rock church. I remember marching into the church with my sister, cousins, and neighborhood friends. I can recall reciting the pledges and singing songs about Jesus. I can remember sitting on the hard, wooden pews and gazing out the windows that were flung open to capture a passing breeze. I remember the faces of teachers and others who gave up a week of their time to help plant seeds of faith in the lives of us little kids. And, to this day, I cannot eat a peanut butter cracker or drink a glass of grape kool-aid without thinking about VBS at the little rock church.
To be sure, VBS was a lot different back then from what it is in most churches today. Modern-day VBS’s are bigger and glitzier as they attempt to attract youngsters who now have many more summertime options from which to choose. Yet, in spite of the changes or the various ways we do VBS, its purpose has not changed over the years. VBS remains an effort to help kids learn about God, to grow in their understanding of Him, and to become more aware of His purpose and plan for their lives.
As a small kid seated on that wooden pew, I didn’t know a lot about God, but He knew a lot about me. He used faithful people to plant seeds in my heart that in His time and His way, He would later bring to harvest. In the same way, I remember teaching kindergartners in VBS years ago when I little fellow named Stevie asked:, “Who is Jesus?” I tried the best I knew how to tell this kindergartner about Jesus. I know that God knows Stevie and where he is today and I pray that He has brought that seed to fruition.
Then again this week, as we helped three- and four-year-olds put together foam airplanes, goggles, and a few other simple crafts, I was reminded of God’s awesome knowledge of each of us. Like me, all those years ago, I realize these kids may not understand a lot about God, but I also know without a doubt that God knows each of them. In His time and in His way, He can cause the simplest seed to sprout. That seed could just be a smile or laughter, a simple comment that made an impression, or a fun activity that encouraged a child to think about God. Only God knows how or when He will cause those seeds to sprout and grow.
Yes, another VBS has come and gone, but the seeds of the knowledge of God are just beginning to take root in young lives. Somewhere, among the scissors, glue, markers, and stickers, are deep, abiding truths that only God can bring to fruition – and in His time, and in His way, He will!
“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:24)