Tomorrow morning (weather permitting), I will be out on the lawn at my local church leading a bunch of children in outdoor games. We will play all sorts of wild games, eat a lot of Popsicles, and in little bits learn about the love of God. You are probably thinking I'm about to tell you why that is great for the kids and that all kids should be a part of that. If so, you would be wrong. It's not that all that isn't true (I believe that it is; it's just not why I love VBS so much.)
But this story is how God used Vacation Bible School to change me and it is not a story from my childhood. Surely, I enjoyed VBS as a child. I still recall getting snow cones at snack time at the VBS in the church I was raised. But this story is how VBS changed me as an adult. Six years ago, I was attending church sporadically- which means mostly when my wife made me go. I had traveled a journey that had left me burnt out spiritually and skeptical of churches, church people, and most expressions of religion. I had simply lost interest and had closed off both my heart and mind to it. But, my daughter Addie had reached VBS age. So, we signed her up. It was something fun to do during the summer.
So, here's where my involvement begins. Since I was a teacher, I felt guilty just dropping her off and going home. Something wasn't right in that, so I volunteered. I remember letting our education director know that I was willing to help, but I specifically asked not to be in a "teaching role." I probably used the excuse that as a school teacher, I spent all school-year teaching and just didn't want to do it. In reality, I was spiritually dry and did not believe I had anything to offer the children. I was asked to assist another woman with leading group games. I accepted the challenge and played with the kids as best I could- and probably offered at least a minimum of spiritual guidance..."Jesus doesn't want us to cheat." It was the best I could do.
That was six years ago. God's still not through redeeming me, but I look back at that moment as the time he began to break through to me. I still do not teach, but now in my sixth year with outdoor games (though there was the one year it became shoe relay inside with a heavy dose of Simon Sez), I see this as one of my ministries. I look forward to using games to help children love each other and see God's love for them. I look forward to showing them God's grace while having fun. I look forward to helping them realize God is never finished with us.
So, why do I love VBS? Because sometimes, God isn't just working in the lives of children. He's working on the crusty hearts of us grown-ups too!
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6