As a way of strengthing community and promoting buidling relationships, we’re highlighting one Bigger Picture Moment from every weekly link up. Each post is randomly chosen by random.org. Enjoy this week’s feature if you haven’t already read it.
From Four Now
It is the busiest week of our summer. We have something from nine in the morning until 8:30 at night. I have already stopped for gas twice due to all the driving I am doing from one end of town to the other and back again. There is soccer apparel to wash, lacrosse gear to gather, work to accomplish, Vacation Bible School lessons to study. All these happenings are good, but one stacked on top of the other is almost too much. And the one I end up resenting is VBS. It is so much work, almost like doing daycare, because our church attracts a lot of children from the neighborhood and the elementary school that is across the street. These children come from difficult family situations, and the contrast between their lives and the lives of the children who are growing up in our church is sad and startling. The parents (or grandparents or guardian or older stepbrother’s girlfriend) drop these children off for almost two and a half hours of freedom for themselves, two and a half hours for us to plant some seeds of faith in these spiritually-starved children. It is a challenging task, especially when you consider that our children have grown up with Bible stories, prayer, church every Sunday. They know that Nehemiah is a book of the Bible, they know who Joseph, Moses, and Abraham were, they know what it means to have Jesus in your heart.
And yet, on the first night of VBS, I gathered up my group of seven children to lead through the evening’s activities, determined to get through the night and go home and relax. One of my children spoke English with such a thick hispanic accent, plus a lisp, that I could barely understand him. I simply smiled at him and patted his thick curly dark hair. Another one could not identify where Michigan was on the map I held up to show where we live and where we are visiting during VBS week (Egypt), but she smiled at me so sweetly and listened so well, she instantly became one of my favorites. Another child, a chubby-cheeked, blond-haired girl, was a tough little thing, thanks in part to some older brothers, and she looked up at me with big blue eyes and asked me if I liked her flip-flops. I told her yes, how pretty and colorful they were, determined to encourage her. My brother stole them for me, she responded matter of factly. The oldest child in our group, an engaging 11 year old boy, was talkative, bright, and capable. Yet when we discussed our Bible point for the day, that God gives us hope, he hung his head and said there was no hope at his house.
I wondered what we could possibly accomplish with these children in five evenings of VBS, when they need so much more than learning some Bible verses and wrapping each other up in toilet paper to be mummies and stamping their name in Egyptian symbols on a paper necklace. They need love and stability, parents who are there for them, food, clothing and shelter every day, safety and proper role models. How can they understand the Father’s love for them when dad is in jail and they live with grandma because mom is gone with her boyfriend?
As I picked up after these children when we finished playing games, feeling overwhelmed by the hopelessness in their young lives, I heard that oldest child in the group ask my son about his mom. “That’s my mom”, my son said, pointing to me. I kept picking up shredded toilet paper, cast off from our mummy game, pretending not to hear them talk about me. “That’s your mom?” the boy asked incredulously. He stood still and looked at me. “Wow. You have a nice mom.”
Okay, God. I know I can’t fix these children’s lives in one week. But I will do my part to show them Your love. And even if all they get out of it is that moms can be fun and nice and love the children in their “family”, I will keep working for these little children that You said to let come to You.
Written in participation of Bigger Picture Moments, “A moment where you recognized the role your faith plays in your every day life. A moment where you take note of motherhood and the importance of what you are doing. A moment that made you stop and breathe in the bigness of it all. The hugeness that is life and the small moments adding up to one Bigger Picture.” Play along if you like.