To VBS or not to VBS: This is my Anguish!


Hi Lord!

I have so many things weighing heavily on my mind. Sometimes I wonder why you gave me such a strong mind, one that thinks and thinks and thinks. My strong conscience does not help – once something appears wrong to me – or even if something else simply appears “better,” I cannot put away the thoughts that drew me to the conclusion but am instead forced to act upon them! Oh, but I do thank you for these gifts. They do make life harder, but much more interesting.

Right now it is VBS soaring through the brainwaves. You know that I have struggled with VBS thoughts since last year. I was really pressed – by Your Spirit, I believe – to see how so many of us church women were acting like Marthas last year. It was almost impossible not to be a Martha, and yet my soul felt broken in two for it. My heart yearns to be a Mary! And I yearn to bring a throng of Marys with me, rejoicing at your feet and waiting for the next words from your mouth!

I just feel so obligated to help out with VBS. Why? Because it is a major church event. Because Everymom who is Anymom helps out – of course! Yet You started stirring within me feelings that VBS may not be for us, at least for now. Do you know how hard this is on me? To be different? To look like I am not Your servant? To look selfish and unhelpful? Lord, I will look like a flake. A Flake!!

Yet, if I do not listen to your still small voice, and the principles you keep knocking me over the head with, then I will really be a flake – even if to the rest of the church I do not look like one.

I have always thought of VBS as an outreach to the neighborhood, unchurched kids, and indeed, Lord, I praise you forevermore for any of the souls that You have reached through VBS. And, Lord, how I do love to share your Good News, especially with little people who have never heard of Your Grace! The fact remains that the majority of the children in VBS are churched kids, who should already be well-versed in the Gospel. Aren’t there more effective alternatives to reach the few unchurched kids that do go to VBS? Perhaps having them over for dinner, meeting physical and emotional needs of their families, or letting our well-versed young ones directly share their faith? And these options sound so hassle and hectic-atmosphere free! I feel that we in the Body of Christ tend to see getting the unsaved through the doors of the church building as the best way to evangelize. Lord, you are showing me that this is not the case, but that instead you want to use our very lives to reach others. I am so moved by the way Jesus “did” evangelism. Lord, that you would remind us in Your Body that we are not professionals, that we do not need to copy the ways of the world, but that we can imitate Jesus Christ and win souls exceedingly well – with a lot less overhead!

And the amount of work that it takes to put on VBS at a big church! VBS is an impressive, well-oiled machine — with hours and hours of blood, sweat and prep work poured into it. Mostly by mommas who give up hours of time with their families to get ready for the VBS week, and possibly give up hours of time they should be using to disciple younger women or reach out to neighbors who need your love. The moms look tired and spent and overwhelmed to me. I want to yell to them, “Come to Him you who are weary and heavy-laden, and He will give you rest! His yoke is easy, and His burden is light!” Is Marthadom inescapable, or is there a better way?

Lord, I spend so much of the year orchestrating our lives so that the boys will grow in closeness to each other, learning to serve the very people who annoy them the most (good preparation for marriage, I say!), and VBS is another thing that separates them from each other, and from Ron and me. The exciting experience of VBS becomes a self-centered memory, instead of a family calling. And this would not be such a big deal — it is, after all, only one week a year — except that at every turn in our society we are faced with the dissolution of family! Lord, why is your Body insisting on joining in with this pulling apart? Shouldn’t we be the ones who help restore relationships within families, especially at a time when relationships are so strained? While pondering VBS these past few months, I have thought often of the things that drew us away from segregated Sunday School for the time-being: the creation of a generation gap that should not exist, the entertainment-style of kids’ programming, the fostering of self-centered views of church life (what’s in it for me?), the teacher-led passive-style learning, the preeminence of women leaders and the absence of males.

I do thank you that there are so many men at my church who take the time off of work to volunteer this week, but Lord, there simply aren’t enough. It bothers me so that our kids grow up seeing church, especially ministry to children, as woman’s work. Thank you, Lord, for women that want to serve you. But, Lord, it is the fathers that you have called to spiritually nurture their children. It is the fathers who will make the biggest difference for generations to come. The Hebrew model you have provided in scripture shows us relational discipleship where Daddy was the chief delivery system for Truth. VBS does not help us parents bring into the lives of our children godly men whom they can be inspired by and emulate – even the wonderful men who are involved are pretty busy with programming aspects and cannot build relationships with children.

You’ve really changed my mind about the way children learn. I do believe now that people in general learn much better through relationships than through programs or classroom situations. My kids have always had a blast at VBS, but at least at their young ages VBS has not pushed them to grow in their walks with You. Lord, I feel overwhelmingly called to bring others, including my children, into maturity in You. It seems strange to busy myself with something that doesn’t jive with the mission you have written in my heart.

Oh, and I do feel so badly for the children who have just had to endure 180 days of regular school. Lord, to be led from activity to activity with no time to sit under the stars, or in the wildflowers, or at the river – wondering in the beauty of your nature! To live a rushed life, to not have the time to be a child and sit on mom’s lap to read, to leisurely paint a picture, to imagine with siblings. It seems so silly to subject these kids to another week of crafts and singings and stories and activities – in the name of Christ. Lord, how I long to bring children who have never heard of you into your presence by way of nature! The heavens declare your glory, much better than Oriental Trading Company!

I know you are callings us to lives with Margin, and I feel as though VBS is the antithesis to Margin. How can we have margin in our lives while being completely overloaded, even though what we are doing is “good?” If a neighbor stops by, needing a shoulder to cry on, is it righteous of me to say I am indeed too busy with my ministry? Lord, I want to be available for Divine Appointments. Help me to commit ONLY to the things which you have pre-ordained for my good and Your glory, that I may walk confidently seeking Your leading and seeing Your hand.

You want more than than sacrifice from me, don’t you? You want obedience. To obey is better than sacrifice! In some ways I am annoyed with this (as if I have the right!). It is a sacrifice to work at VBS: a sacrifice I will receive honor from and can share in with my gal comrades; a sacrifice that would actually show up on a church Report Card. Yet, Lord, you are calling me to obey, not simply sacrifice. I realize that in obeying you, truly living for you, I will sacrifice much, much more than what VBS would take. You want me to be ready for ministry 24/7, ready to sacrifice at the drop of a hat. Yet, Lord this burden is light because you will provide exactly what I need each step of the way, and the Joy that you will pour upon me for obeying you will flood my soul, and I will bring Glory to your name.

I ask you to help me do this humbly, without a hint of self-righteousness – ouch! I ask you to give me wisdom in talking to others about this decision, that I would only say what You want when You want it said. That my words would be used only for edification, not for tearing down. If you are really calling me to be different in this way, one thing I ask is that you let me sow seeds of love and unity and not seeds of discord in the so-doing. Please, Lord, guide me each step of the way. This is a big thing for me, for I am a silly girl. Thank you for loving me, thank you for leading me, thank you for putting up with me. I want to live for you. No matter what that means.

Your Daughter,

Deborah

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