I tend to overthink everything.
“I can’t do it. I’ve looked at all the variables. I have no ability in myself. Maybe one day I will be good enough, experienced enough, but this is just too hard for me right now. How can I say anything worthwhile and eternally beneficial to those kids? They won’t listen. This sounds like an insane idea. I have already committed to help with one activity and another one would be too much. I already don’t feel qualified for what I signed up for, even though I have all the songs picked out, and I have been practicing. But what songs would You have me lead? How would You have me play? Do You want me to preach? Do You want to preach through me? Okay, I will do it. Prepare me, Lord, for the work ahead. May You be glorified through my life.”
This list of questions and prayers is just a small portion of the thoughts that went through my head before Vacation Bible School (VBS) last week. I was clearly having a little internal conflict. I knew that I could be useful in that ministry, and that God would equip me with what I needed; at least, my heart knew that, but my mind had a hard time catching up.
My flesh tells me that I am not good enough; it also tells me that I am the boss. Both of those messages are wrong. I am good enough, but I am not the boss. My sufficiency, strength, wisdom, and ability are all found in Christ, and the strength of His Holy Spirit in me. Ultimately, He is the One Who decides my future and the course of my ministry.
Christ in me is more than good enough, and He is the boss of my life.
So, against the odds of overthought, I volunteered to co-lead worship for VBS, and then I volunteered to preach on Wednesday night.
All of last week was a blur.
I got off work at 4:30, had a little free time before supper, and then I was off to VBS a little after 6.
I wouldn’t get home until around 9 or 10, and then my life just went on repeat.
I had little time to think of myself, or how I was feeling. I just had to sleep, wake up, work, study, worship, study, and repeat.
It’s strange, then, that in that insanity I found rest and peace. I never felt tired (at least, not until the end of VBS). My voice broke only once (on the night I was speaking). And when my voice would have shaken and given way, Jesus helped me to keep singing and strumming. Throughout the week, my confidence shifted from being in myself to being in Christ, so I didn’t even worry about appearance; I just wanted God to be glorified. Since I was not so focused on myself and my appearance, I was able to look out at the faces in our little sanctuary and see what God sees; His children sitting in the pews.
Some of them were distracted, turned around in their seats, some were not even sitting down, some looked blankly forward without moving their lips, while others had their eyes closed as they worshiped, and there were still some whose voices I could hear above my own. Each of them was in need of a Savior, and just because they were in that sanctuary did not mean that they had it all together. They needed the truth sown into their hearts by faithful teachers; they still need that truth sown into their hearts.
I was one of four teachers that week, trying my best to plant a seed of the Good News of Jesus Christ, but I fully realized that I had no power in myself to bring fruit from that seed. Jesus Himself had to come into the room, and reveal His truth to each individual kid. Only He can reveal to them how they are loved and have been called to an eternal purpose by an awesome, powerful, terrible, wonderful, gracious, and merciful God.
Once, I was in the same shoes as those kids. Much time has passed since those days, but events, experiences, and choices I made in my childhood worked to shape who I am today. I was only six when I committed my life to Jesus.
The weekend after VBS was over, I was recounting experiences from VBS to my dad. He asked if any kids made professions of faith. He was curious, because it was at a week of VBS about 50 years ago that he made a profession of faith. That VBS was a lot smaller than the one I helped with, and they had a travelling evangelist for a preacher. At the end of each message, the preacher would call for kids to come forward who wanted to commit their lives to Christ. At my church’s VBS, the teacher for the night gave a message four different times, to four different age/gender groups, so I can’t say what the other speakers said, but this a little of what I shared…
I shared the Good News about how Jesus came to save us from our sin; the sin that blurs God’s signature on our hearts. I gave each of the kids a little toy soldier, and I had them write their signature on the base, or the sole, of their soldier. Every time they played with their toy, I wanted them to be reminded that God’s signature was on their heart, and that He wants to hold them, as His children, His precious creation. I also wanted them to consider whether they were fighting against God or against sin, if they were in the hand of God or next to His foot. My exact question was, “Are you a soldier of God or a soldier of sin?” And I remember one girl emphatically saying, “Sin!” After hearing that, I tried to explain more fully how you want to be in God’s hand, not fighting against Him; that battle is impossible to win. And it may seem like a harsh comparison, “You’re either in God’s hand or next to His foot,” but I wanted each of those kids to know Jesus, and follow Him wholeheartedly. I didn’t want them to know only one facet of Jesus. Yes, He is loving and He is good, and faith in Him does save a sinner from hell, but I also wanted them to know about the awesome, powerful, huge God that could crush all the tiny people telling Him that He does not exist except in their own imagination. I also wanted them to know the God that chose to extend grace and mercy to His rebellious creation through the life of His only begotten Son.
God’s love is far more vast and radical than just saving us from hell. He dove right into the mess to draw us out of sin, the muck, and the mire, and He desires to have a relationship with us right here and now, not just when we die.
I pray those kids were able to catch the message I was sending. I threw out the seed and/or watered seeds planted by others, but Jesus is the One Who gives the increase.
Ministry of any kind is not about me, but Christ in me, the hope of glory.
And VBS may be over, but Jesus is still working; He still loves those kids and wants them to be safe in His hand.
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. So, I seek to be one of the laborers, helping wherever I can, knowing that Jesus is strong enough, wise enough, courageous enough, and talented enough to use “the least of these.” Where He creates the opportunity, He will provide the way for His children to make the most of that opportunity for His glory and for their edification and eternal gain. Amen!
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One Who, in every respect, has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Corinthians 8:6)