A devotional by Jessica Brodie
I don’t know if you’d classify me as an introvert or a Highly Sensitive Person, but as much as I love people, I get overwhelmed after most encounters. Whether it’s a meeting or field day or a one-on-one with a friend, I have to decompress in the car after—or if it’s a biggie, come home and take a nap. (And I despise naps.)
But it just so happens I’m a member of one of the largest United Methodist churches in the nation, which also just so happens to offer a massive vacation Bible school. Its VBS attracts about two thousand children and hundreds of volunteers who descend on the campus all week long.
When the leaders put out their plea for help, the Holy Spirit began to stir in me. Me! An introverted, overly sensitive soul! And I knew what I needed to do: sign up to love on those kids. And no, not as a behind-the-scenes helper or an at-home prayer warrior or anything else… but as a crew guide for fourth and fifth-grade girls and boys.
Right smack in the middle of all the action.
I knew full well what it meant: all week long I’d be in the thick of the noise and interaction, the dancing and songs, the water games and scavenger hunts.
I promise I’m no sadist. Yet I couldn’t help myself. The Spirit had called, and I needed to answer. What else could I do but throw myself in, give it all I had, and face the consequences later?
I’m glad I did. It was spectacular!
My husband thought I was wacko. Every afternoon after VBS I was a wreck, and by Friday I’m not sure I even bothered to brush my hair, but oh—what an experience! On Monday we were spelling out “Jesus” on the floor with our bodies. On Tuesday I got soaked head-to-toe from a water bucket race. By Wednesday I’d mastered all the dance moves to the praise songs, and Thursday I watched as kids went to the altar and accepted Jesus as their savior. On Friday, I sat back dazed and recognized the week for what it was: a holy masterpiece. Before my eyes, preteen boys were singing their hearts out. Girls were shrieking, faces streaked with pure, undiluted, Disney World-level glee.
It was a God Party, and I’d just gotten a weeklong front row view.
It hit me then—that’s what Jesus meant when He told His disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15, New International Version).
These kids were wide open. They came to VBS as themselves, quirks and bad habits and crazy hair and shining eyes. They took in what was taught. They reveled in it, and they left exhilarated and energized. The way they received the Kingdom of God—with passion and authenticity, holding nothing back—was a holy example of how God wants us to love Him and how we should love each other.
These kids taught me far more than I taught them.
I’m ashamed now of my early reluctance to volunteer just because I was afraid of a little discomfort.
Watching those kids taught me how to love in a fresh, new way—with arms wide open, voice raised, hair wild, caught up in the only thing that really matters: worshipping our Lord.
Next year, I won’t let my reluctance hinder me from loving those kids the way Jesus demanded. You can bet I’ll be right there in the action, dancing, and singing and laughing.
And then going home and taking a nap.
Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach.
She is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate (AdvocateSC.org), the oldest newspaper in Methodism.
Learn more about her fiction and read her blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.