Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dirty diapers, graham crackers, and what I missed

Vacation Bible School had been planned for months.  The curriculum had been purchased, crafts ready to assemble, snacks arranged, music rehearsed, and teachers assigned.  In other churches, I had found a place to serve by taking pictures of the children for a slideshow in  the final program at end of the week.  The children's director gave me the thumbs up, and I prepared my camera and purchased several rolls of slide film.  I was excited to be able to serve this way.

When I arrived early that first morning and began to get set up, the director came up to me, "I need you to..." he began.  I awaited instructions, perhaps, on which classes to focus.  "I really need you to...," he started again, " for just a few minutes with the toddlers until the teacher can get here."

It was not what I had in mind, nor my area of giftedness, but sure, no problem.  I entered the small windowless room already crowded with 12 to 18 month olds crawling, climbing, and chewing on each other's pacifiers. There was just one woman in the room supervising, who immediately handed me her very snotty-nosed baby and DASHED out of the room.  "Ahhhh," I began to say, "sick children are not allowed to stay."

"I have to get to my class," she replied.  "I am a teacher," she said with authority.  "It's just allergies," she called down the hall as she disappeared out of sight.

I turned around and closed the door, goop running out of this baby's nose and the now closed-in space growing incredibly claustrophobic.  The number of children increased in the next few minutes from four to six to eight.  Just a few minutes more, I convinced myself.  The teacher will arrive any time now.

But she didn't.

She didn't show up for the whole week.

I was totally out of my element.  What am I doing here?  I wiped noses and bottoms and handed out graham crackers.  I carried around crying babies, two at a time, waiting as the time crawled by, literally minute by minute.  This was not what I had in mind.  I was not at all excited to serve in that capacity.

I survived.  But what needed changing more than diapers was my attitude.  I knew there was a reason for this alteration of plans, but somehow I had ranked what service was more significant than another.  I was so caught up in the "why am I doing this?" that I totally missed out on "what, LORD?"  My eyes were so focused on my grumbling that I was the one who missed out.  It is only when we trust God in the act of obedience that God can enlarge our hearts to His purposes.  Sometimes those will be revealed.  And sometimes that is when faith kicks in and that is enough.

Was I filling in for someone who reneged her own responsibility? Doesn't matter.  God will use it.  Was someone taking advantage of me?  Doesn't matter.  God will use it.  My own grumbling blocked out any glimmer of His vision, visible or invisible.

Why do I feel like I have to understand God's purposes for there to be a reason for it?

And if I knew the eternal implications, wouldn't I leap at the opportunity before me -- whatever that may be?  Wouldn't I do it just for Him? Just because He asked?  And in the process I learned it is not a matter of "doing for God," but an act of worship.

And what if, that week, now more than fifteen years ago, what if  that young mom with the snotty-nosed kid (who then passed on to me a summer-long cold), what if she had led a child to know Jesus that week? What if?  Would I see then what is sacred a little differently?

I did not miss an opportunity to take pictures that week, but to worship a little deeper the purposes of God.

Truly, I say to you,
as you did it
to one of the least of these my brethren,
you did it to Me.

                        Matthew 25.40

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