3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Last week was VBS at my church. Yes, I am talking about a week of Vacation Bible School. It 's one of my very favorite happenings in the life of the church, but it occurred to me as I was running around like a very sweaty and headless chicken that VBS has nothing to do with a vacation if you volunteer and everything to do with a guaranteed Very Busy Schedule! One thing is for sure, after a week of VBS, I definitely need a vacation.
The work is well worth it, though. Every year, it is an amazing experience to be a part of 260+ children learning about God and growing in their faith. It never fails, I always grow in my faith too. It can't be helped. You can see, feel, and know God as you go through it from beginning to end. The relationships that form and strengthen are priceless. It takes a huge body of volunteers to make VBS work, and this year, I got an email months ago asking me to be the VBS photographer. I said "yes", but I have to be honest. It was not without hesitation.
Being the VBS photographer is a huge responsibility, and it was overwhelming to me. Yes, I do have a nice camera. Yes, I love to volunteer for VBS. BUT, I was thinking more like being a small group leader, a teacher, or a snack volunteer. Those things I knew I could handle. Photographer had not crossed my mind. I take pictures of my own children and still objects for my blog, not huge groups of multi-aged, energetic kids on a mission to move to the next exciting rotation. I felt completely inadequate for the job. What if the pictures weren't good enough? What if I couldn't pull off the group photos of all those wiggly kids with their very short attention spans? I was a teacher. I know how kids work. Hundreds of people would be looking at those photos. What if I didn't get everything and everyone? And most terrifying to me, I had absolutely no clue how to put together the all-important, grand finale slide show, with music. The VBS photographer has to capture the essence of the entire week in pictures. Didn't the VBS directors know that pictures speak louder than words, and I am clearly better with words? What the church really needed, I thought, was a professional photographer with more experience. BUT, the church specifically asked me, and I couldn't say "no" (even thought I really, really wanted to).
Sure I could think of a million good excuses for saying "no", but my faith is why I said "yes." This everyday faith I am trying to grow and nurture means saying "yes" when God calls me to do something for Him, even when it would be so much more comfortable and easy to say "no." Sometimes, I admit, I miss the mark and say no because I don't realize God is the one who is doing the asking, but when my church asks me to do something very specific for our children and VBS, there's no doubt. That's God talking. That's why I had to say "yes", and I prayed through my anxiety, fear, exhaustion, and those haunting feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes, saying "yes" is a true test of our faith.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work...31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And so, I took the pictures for VBS all week. I did it, and God blessed me along the way over and over again. At times, it was far from a bed of roses, and there were many retakes and imperfect shots, especially when it came to the group pictures. Group leaders were probably over me and my efforts at times, and I have some photos to prove the kids were definitely over me and my camera. And that nagging, terrifying, looming, and inevitable slide show, well, I prayed more about that than anything else. And after two late nights of tireless effort and attempts with little sleep, God took that burden right out of my hands. Our sweet, young, technology savvy middle school youth director offered to take the pictures and put them together in a slide show. When I hesitated to take her up on her offer, she insisted. I am sure she quickly realized it was easier to just do it herself than to answer all of my complicated, confusing questions. The slide show was done, with music, just like that. It was beautiful and the perfect ending to an amazing week with God.
"God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called (Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge)." That's how God works, and that's what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 12 when he encourages us to "eagerly desire the greater gifts." With God, we don't have to be the most educated, have the most experience, possess the longest list of credentials, or be the perfect prototype for the job. We just have to say "yes" in faith. God provides the rest. He blesses us so that we can bless others. God has something for everyone to do in His name. I am so thankful for my week of VBS and every single person that took part in it.
My prayer for today for all who read this blog is adapted from 1 Peter 10-19. I encourage you to follow the link and read the scripture as it was originally written before you pray. How is God calling you? What is He asking you to do for Him? What gifts does He want you to use? In saying these words, I pray you will each get to experience the power and glory of God by recognizing His call and saying "yes" to Him. He will bless you each step of the way and then some!
Dear Almighty God,
Thank you for blessing me with gifts. Guide me to use whatever gifts you have given me to serve others, as a faithful steward of Your grace in its various forms. When I speak, help me to do so as one who speaks Your word. When I serve, help me to do so with the strength You, God, provide, so that in all things You may be praised through Jesus Christ. To You be the glory and the power for ever and ever.
I pray this prayer in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,
May God bless you today and always,