For 20 years, I worked at Vacation Bible School in various capacities: kindergarten helper, 1st grade teacher, VBS director, food committee, but mostly as the 6th grade director/teacher. I loved that age group! They were old enough to read, write, and work by themselves. They were old enough to do fun craft projects. They were old enough to understand salvation — and many did make professions of faith during VBS week. Nothing is more exciting than that!
But then we moved away and I no longer got to teach 6th grade VBS. They were already “taken”; they were already someone else’s kids. So I had to settle for being the mission story lady. Not too bad, though; you’d be surprised at what you can teach and craft in 15 minutes.
After 10 years, we returned home and I got my 6th graders back! And 5th graders came in the deal, too! Each day, 27 energetic 5th and 6th graders descended upon our room. Hmmm…
Vacation Bible School seemed a bit different than I remembered. Vacation it was not! (I wonder what nut came up with that part of the title?) Bibles were in short supply. (Parents, hello?) And “school“? Yes, I got schooled! I learned a lot. For example:
- The kids are the same as they’ve always been: precious little stinkers. They’re curious seekers of fun. They love to laugh and make others laugh, too. The latter, however, can get them in some trouble. “Johnny, give me the rubber band.” “Susie, put up the brush.” “Bottom in chair, Johnny!” “Kate, where are you going?” “Johnny, it’s my turn to talk.” “Stop whispering, Sus– Johnny!” Every morning for a whole week, you long for Saturday. Then right in the middle of your lesson, their little eyes light up — they get it! And all the stress and frustration slowly melts away. Suddenly, it’s Saturday morning and it’s depressingly quiet.
- The parents, churches, and culture, however, have all changed. Work-at-home moms are becoming more rare and fewer teachers are willing to help (can you blame them?). Churches seem to have a need for quick and easy; the emphasis is more on fun than on learning. I guess you could say the “V” has come to outweigh the “S” — and knowledge of the “B” suffers. And our culture? The lesson topics included in the teaching materials are a whole lot different than they used to be!
- And me? Well, in some ways I’ve remained pretty constant: I love the old stories, the old structure, the old pledges — all of them — and I love working hard all week to prepare for Parents’ Night on Friday. But in other ways, I’ve changed: My patience is much thinner; my heart, much heavier; my mind, not as quick; and my body, well, it aches all over by the end of the day.
Maybe it’s time for me to move OUT — I’m just too old! I’ve passed the 50 mark and all my kids are grown. I don’t know the language any more; my “hip” has turned into “hips.” No longer cool, I’m flashing hot. Instead of “got game,” I’ve got pain — and lots of ’em. Rather than fast and fun, I’m slow and sleepy. But then I wonder what Abraham, or Sarah, or Moses, or Noah, or other spiritual ancestors would say if they heard my excuse. No, I can’t move out just yet.
Maybe it’s time for me to move UP — up to bed babies, that is! Rocking, changing, singing, changing, loving, changing, playing, changing — now that I could do! Babies don’t sass back; they just spit up. They don’t roll their eyes at your stories; they simply roll over and go to sleep. They’re really just the same as the 6th graders: precious little stinkers — it’s just a different kind of stink. Bed babies: I could do that.
Yet even as tempting as that proposal sounds, there’s still something missing. What is it? Oh, yes, it’s my heart! The 6th graders stole it years ago and have not returned it yet. I guess I’d better give them another year. And who knows? One day I might look those 6th graders in the eyes and say something like Caleb said to Joshua:
…So, [boys and girls], here I am today, 85 years old!
I am still as strong today as the day [God] sent me out;
I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then…
the Lord helping me…
Only 35 years to go! But, first, I need a nap!