I can rememeber when I was growing up that Summer was an awesome and seemingly magical time between school years where anything could happen. The days were hot, long and full of adventure. However there were certain events that one could always look forward to; Family camping trips, church youth camp and Vacation Bible School (VBS).
Now that I'm an adult, summer still holds for me some of that same old magic. It's the highlight of my year to spend a week camping with my family. I haven't been able to help at a youth camp since 2007, and I miss that but the Lord knows best. VBS is something different all together though... For me it is bitter sweet as it marks the unofficial end to the summer season. The last HOORAH before school starts the next month. Stores are putting out school supplies and fall decor and cooler weather clothing. The last several years our church has always held our VBS in July to try and not have a scheduling conflict with other churches.
We spend almost all the summer planning for it and then it takes place and it's a week packed with teaching, singing, crafts, games, memory verses, prizes, contests and so much more... So much anticipation builds up to it's beginning, which is usually a little bumpy until we get some kind of routine down and we finally get it all worked out and it's all over. It takes a lot of energy and effort, a lot of love and patients as we work with the kids. I've seen some of the wildest, rebellious kids turn into some of the sweetest, most loving and obedient kids by the end of the week. It's a labor of love and I kind of feel like I'm adopting these little ones for the week and they become my own little children to raise and love all for the honor and glory of the Lord. I watch as they grow. I see how their eyes light up when I draw them into my Bible story and make the Word of God real to them. I listen as their songs change in the corse of the week from worldly music about sin and things that little kids shouldn't know anything about at such a young age, (if ever), to songs of pure godliness. And I realize the importance that consistancy plays in the life of kids. For that one week we hit them hard with the things of God and we work on the same things day after day it seems and for once in their life, literally for some of them, some one actually CARES about them to tell them "No" and to set limits for them and not just limits but set goals for them, godly goals, and to help them work toward those goals. For once they have someone who EXPECTS MORE from them then for them just to be present. It's CRAZY AND TERRIBLE AND EXHAUSTING AND WONDERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING all at the same time.
And then, it's over....just like that. A part of me wants it to keep going to see just how far we can take it and how long we can keep the momentum up. But the realization is that I know it must come to an end. "To everything there is a season..." The first indicator that it can't go on forever is, of course, the physical one. I don't know about the other workers but I for one was utterly and completely exhausted by the end of the week. When your working a full time job 10-12 hours a day during the daytime and then trying to handle 12 to 15 kids ranging in ages from 2 years old up to 6 years old, well I'm not Superman.... I came home Friday and went to bed around 10:30 and I slept a good 12 hours before I woke up. Yeah folks, I was THAT tired. I know there were some that were more tired than I was too.
But the other indicator that it can't go on forever is that of a spiritual one... As a worker you present the Gospel of Christ to these kids over and over again all week long but there comes a point after you prepare the soil, plant the seed, water it, tend it, pull out the weeds around it.. that you have to step back a just let God work and let the seed do what all seeds do....see if it grows. It's a lot like the old saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink". During VBS you share God's free gift of salvation each night and in the end, if that child has reached the age of accountablity, (which can be different for each individual child by the way) then they are the ones who have to choose to accept Christ, through faith, as their own personal Savior. I spent days, months, the whole year praying over this ONE WEEK! Praying for God to do a great work and whether I get to see it or not, I know He does answer.
So now that VBS has reached it's end, the labor isn't done. For every end there is another beginning somewhere for each of us. I have the project of repainting and redecorating my Sunday School classroom for the 3 to 5 years olds to finish. It was put on hold for VBS. There's always my Sunday School lesson that must be prayed over and prepared each week for the children and then there's "Kid's Club" on wednesdays throughout the school year to look forward to and we have a month before that is to begin. There's the annual church revival and the church's "Birthday" in September to plan and as this marks our 50th year there's much to be done to celebrate and plan. So it is the bitter sweet goodbye to Summer with the completion of VBS and a big HELLO to what is ahead. I think the month of August should be a time to rest but we wont be lazy. There's much to be done... much to be enjoyed and much to look forward to...