Vacation Bible School has always been the best ministry week of the year for me! I have so many memories - Marty and I teaching preschool VBS together the first summer after we were married, leading the games(!) when I was 6 months pregnant with our 3rd son, taking VBS notes on my first day here at Hope Church - so many memories. I see God at work in specific ways that only happen during VBS as I witness His Church working together to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with children. But this year God had some big lessons to share with me.
On Wednesday of VBS late in the afternoon I started feeling sick and by 9:00 I took a COVID test - positive. What?! This was not in the plan! But sickness overtook me and I felt bad enough that I had to acknowledge that this was happening. In the following days of recovery I let God’s sweet Spirit work in my heart and mind to share the lessons He had for me. Here are five lessons He taught me. Maybe you can relate to some of these through your COVID experiences.
1. Jesus lets us cry “disappointment tears.” In fact, I think He cries disappointment tears with us. Sometimes as Christians we are quick to think, “This is God’s plan” or “God knows that this is best for some reason.” But for me that doesn’t help when I’m just very disappointed. What does help is knowing that I have a God who took on human flesh and walked in my shoes and knows what disappointment feels like. And yes, I think He cried with me that I was going to miss the last two days of the best ministry week of the year for me. I had such peace in crying with Him.
2. Although He loves to use us, I was reminded that He is fully capable of completing everything He wants through the ministry that is HIS in the first place. I’m so grateful He uses the gifts and skills He has created us with but frankly He’s God, and He doesn’t NEED those to accomplish His work.
3. And along those lines, there are times He asks us to obey Him without the outcome that we think is going to happen. We just need to obey. I obeyed Him in completing all the things that needed to happen for VBS to occur, but the outcome for me personally wasn’t what I imagined - and that’s okay. It’s just about obedience.
4. He sometimes wants me to just sit back and watch Him work instead of being all in. It was so fun to get texts from people telling me what God was doing! I was reminded of the year and a half when I watched ministry from hospital rooms in Des Moines and Houston. When we can’t serve the way we want to it’s so fun to just watch Him do His thing!
5. He has built up an army of Hope Church servants who are equipped to do the work of the Gospel and are becoming more and more passionate about the 4/14 window and resilient faith in our kids. I was brought to tears laying in my bed as I heard stories of middle school students joyfully ministering in all kinds of ways, of little ones who cried on Friday as they hugged their crew leader and said things like, “I wish this wasn’t over.” And of the Holy Spirit working in a young 5th grader’s life as she started the week with some pretty far off ideas about Christianity and by Friday was relaying the Gospel to her crew.
“My COVID VBS” is surely one that has been added to my memory bank. I love that my God is so loving that He will use every experience of my life to draw me closer to Him. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”