As a Sunday School teacher, VBS leader, children’s and youth leader at church, one of the most rewarding things I have been blessed to do over these thirty years is impart some of my “wisdom” to a child and then see that child take that little nugget and run with it on their own. It’s like watching a child try to run with a kite. You don’t know if they’ll have the stamina or energy to get that kite off the ground and then it suddenly leaps out of their hand and soars higher and higher in the sky, going to even greater heights than you could ever have imagined.
I have had the awesome privilege of being around long enough to have diapered the bottoms of babies and toddlers in the church nursery to watching those same “babies” graduate high school! I have been blessed to be their Youth Sunday School teacher and then weep with emotion when they preached their first sermon! I have laughed at their hair styles, tongue piercings, tattoos, and crazy clothing. I have tried to understand their music through these many years and I even like some of it… or at the very least I have managed to tolerate the beat!
I can count some of the dents in the walls and carpet stains in the church that were caused by children and youth. I remember the water fights and the tracked in mud. I suppose those are the necessary casualties when a church prizes its’ children and youth over a building.
Many of the young people who now teach alongside me at Vacation Bible School (VBS) this year, were once my students! I remember the girls as kindergarteners with lace and curls, who have now grown into the teenage beauties and sports stars today who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing frills and lace. I watch as they interact with their class, teaching the same stories I once shared with them. I want to just drop to my knees and say, “Thank you, Jesus.” I watch some of the youth boys and remember when they were the ones who loved to interrupt me as I tried to tell a Bible story in class and then would refuse to do anything else except play with the blocks and small cars. Now they are the tall and lanky leaders who tirelessly give piggy back rides to squealing preschoolers and assist small hands to make crafts and wipe up spilled drinks… (ahhh, add yet another stain to the church carpet). Again, I lift my eyes and whisper, “Thank you, Jesus!”
My heart absolutely bursts with joy to see those youth growing in Christ. I have been present at their baptisms, and I have heard their testimonies. I have prayed for them, wept with them, and rejoiced with them. Many of my “kids”, as I call those I have been fortunate enough to call my students over the years, are adults who now serve on the mission field, or are going to seminary or are serving on a church staff. Several of them are accomplished speakers, ministers and authors. Many are married and raising families of their own. “Thank-you, Jesus!” I say again.
I passed a little preschooler today at VBS who ran up to me unexpectedly and he gave me a huge hug and a high-five and I smiled. I couldn’t help but picture him running with a little kite…
“O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old – what we have heard and know, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”