With VBS now off the books for 2017, memories of the experience will likely be etched in the hearts of those in attendance for years to come. Thinking back across the years to my own childhood, what I mostly remember is the gift of time invested by the adults who had places of leadership in the process. Of course, I also remember the other kids with whom I shared the experience.
Ours is a small church. Consequently, the scale of those in attendance was congruent with the size of our church. We had a total of about twenty to twenty-two kids who fell in the age range for participation. Throw in another ten kids who were older, but recruited to assist those leading the activities and you’ve got a sizeable group. Add another eight-to-ten adults and it felt like a happening place. However, just because you’re small doesn’t mean you’ve forfeited anything in terms of quality. We didn’t. It was a great experience for those involved.
I got an email this week from a dear friend that I’ve known since the first grade. I’ve known his wife since the third grade. We all went to the same church throughout our childhood years. He and his wife have served in places of church leadership and have invested a lifetime of involvement in VBS across the years. He commented: “I am thankful we both married women who know what is important and have the calling and ability to make it happen…” He sent me pictures that captured some of those experiences. It was pictures of children having fun! Included in some of the pictures were he and his wife.
He made the notation that it has been a number of years since his wife was able to be involved. Currently, she is totally dependent upon him for her care and he lovingly and protectively provides it. I responded to his note by commenting on the reality that his wife’s investment in the lives of children across the years was continuing to reap dividends.
Isn’t that true? The person I am today is an outcome of all I’ve experienced and everyone with whom I’ve shared life. Last night, out of my peripheral vision I caught a tender moment. At least, it was tender to me. It took place in our group wrap-up session where all of the kids were together.
I observed two brothers standing side-by-side facing the same direction. The brother on the left had his right hand resting on the right shoulder of his brother. To do so, his right arm was also resting across his brother’s shoulders as well. It was a Kodak moment for sure.
Did I mention the brothers are twins? It was only for a fleeting moment, but just for a moment in my head I went back in time. I smiled with the thought and then refocused on the twin brothers standing together. They are really cute kids. Unlike my brother and I, they are not identical in looks. One has red hair and the other brown. The profile of their faces is also different. Their names don’t even rhyme. Yet, despite the physical differences, the bond they share is the same.
Looking across the faces of a host of small children in the room warmed my heart. Everyone was having fun. Earlier in the evening, I observed a couple of small groups of children quickly putting a simple puzzle together. All of the pieces fit beautifully until they didn’t. It was by design, but a couple of the pieces didn’t fit the puzzle that was being pieced together.
Isn’t that a true reflection of life? Our world can appear picture perfect until it isn’t. What do you do when the pieces don’t fit together? The innocence of childhood isn’t forever. In fact, there are many children for whom life already hasn’t turned out to be the picture perfect family in which they previously thought they had been born.
What do you do when life throws you a curve ball or when things don’t turn out as you expect? Where do you turn and whom can you trust? Those are tough issues for adults to contemplate. In fact some of us spend a lifetime in thoughtful contemplation attempting to figure it out.
Like I said, the innocence of childhood doesn’t last forever. Even in a small church in a small place like Henly, paradise isn’t a guarantee. On this side of eternity, the one thing we can count on is that the pieces don’t always fit nicely together.
Does God make a difference when the pieces don’t fit together? You tell me. Don’t we all have to figure that out for ourselves? Actually, sometimes we can benefit from the encouragement and support of others. Even some of the things we learned in VBS as kids seem to take on new meaning when we apply them to real life situations we never dreamed possible. Gratefully, I’ve lived long enough to know the proven dependability of his love. Not everyone has lived long enough to have that same experience. Maybe that’s why I keep showing up. Two are better than one. They have a good return for their labor. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have a friend that does. I met him at VBS.
All My Best!