I reported for duty last Monday morning at the Sonrise National Park, aka the church I attend. A banner advertising our alias identity for the week spanned the driveway as I entered the parking lot. I almost pulled out my wallet as I approached what looked like a ranger's station set up to collect entrance fees. The fictitious replica was one piece of the fabulous decorations our vacation Bible school volunteers had constructed to provide a park setting for the week. Stuffed wildlife creatures, borrowed from the county's park department, stood in lifelike poses throughout the building. The stage resembled a campground site complete with tent, canoe, tripod and a mountain themed backdrop. Rather than a hallway connecting the sancutary to the classrooms, we now found a cave to pass through, darkened with walls draped in black paper and plastic tablecloths.
My assignment: trail guide for the Outrageous Otters, a group of 5th grade girls. What fun! Each morning we followed an activity schedule that rotated us through four stations all centered on the promise for the day:
Bible story time where a young man from our youth group relayed God's word in a very lively and meaningful presentation,
Game time and
Nature center where we learned facts about animals and enjoyed a snack-also part of the theme. (donut hole acorns, ice-cream cup made to look like a beaver, sandwich in the shape of a fish, etc.)
The morning started and ended with all groups gathered for singing, watching planned-for-a-purpose friendly competitions between trail guides, tracking totals of money brought in to meet a goal of providing shoes for orphans in Africa and watching a "Nature Survivors" DVD, reality show format, that challenged us the listeners to look for the True Nature of the contestants. What delight to be surrounded by energetic kids, excited about God's Word and being submersed in Biblical principles for two and a half hours each day! The songs are still repeating their messages in my head.
I blissfully followed my girls, taking in the daily promises of True Peace, True Riches, True Power, True Love and True Hope. The Sunday service following this glorious week, Bible School participants presented a recap of our learnings for the rest of the church.
Imagine with me that what I just described could be a foretaste of heaven. We, God's kids, gathered together to learn more about Him. There will be excitement and a constant atmosphere of rejoicing. We'll learn and understand more of the stories we love and think we know well, sitting around the feet of Him, the Master Storyteller. Our hands will find the projects and assignments He gives us, like doing fun crafts together with other believers, each adding our unique creativity because of the varied gifts He's instilled in us. Our accomplishments will be displays for His pleasure and represent His life message inside of us.
I bet we'll sit around his creation and get to ask how each creature and being was put together, and He'll let us in on secrets the scientists never discovered. And yes, there will be snacks, outrageously creative with our taste buds pleasantly alive to every flavor!
And oh, the games we'll play. Totally enjoying carefree fun. The thrill of competition where we can strive to be winners and never feel bad about losing. We won't worry that we're staying up too late or have to fear any injuries. I might even do a sport I never attempted here--of the extreme kind!
While in Bible School I had no worries or cares. My schedule was planned out for me and my mind was constantly focused on His truth and goodness. Even though I had responsibility with the girls I led, I could easily give leadership to them out of the freedom I was experiencing. What if I could live like that all day long, every day!
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation... ' Matt. 25:34.
"Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these" Matt. 19:14.
Lord, keep my heart childlike and eager for more of you. You have marvelous things planned for me each day and when life happens to bring hurt and sadness, you will always be there to pick me up and comfort me. I enjoy being part of your kingdom now, and I thank you for preparing a place for me in your heavenly kingdom. I love you, Father.