Monday, July 07, 2014

A VBS Lesson For Me: Love is Patient

For three of the last four years I have been able to serve as the leader of a combined 4th-6th grade group at our church's annual Vacation Bible School. It is astounding that this age group now includes my own brood! It can be intimidating to teach a class my children are in, but they have repeatedly told me how much they enjoy it, so I suppose I ought to ride that wave until it crashes in the 'mortified by Mom' stage.

No doubt, three hours a day of 70 plus lively tweens wears me out, but it does so in all the best ways. Coming from an unchurched family, VBS holds a very special place in my own story. I love that God has allowed me to now teach the age group I was in when I felt Him draw me close three decades ago. It is a sweet time as I participate each year, remembering my own journey to faith.

I also marvel each Summer at the powerful truths that can come from boiling the Gospel story down to the basics. As a 'serious adult,' approaching the Scripture in a childlike way is refreshing! Of course, there is truly nothing like preparing to teach something to find yourself being taught. I was reviewing tomorrow's lesson about some of the characteristics of love--and my teacher's guide smacked me with a lesson more profound than any I've read recently in more 'respectable,' adult publications:

"Love in action is patient and kind. It behaves with humility that doesn't focus exclusively on personal agendas or achievements. Love expressed though patience is not so much about waiting as about being fully present where we are in the present moment. Living expectantly in the here and now reminds us that God has placed us in situations He designed for us. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, 'We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.' Trusting God's design for every moment of our lives means we can practice love in every difficult situation. We can pray for those who tax our patience, trusting that God's love and kindness can prevail in every circumstance."
-from Gospel Light's SonTreasure Island VBS Preteen Teacher's Guide  

I have re-read this paragraph a dozen times, its profound simplicity seeping into my heart. I don't think I have ever considered this definition of patience in love...It is NOT waiting for someone or something to change, but trusting that is God has allowed the difficult moments with people in my life. They aren't an accident or a glitch, He has a purpose in them.

My role is not to 'equalize' or 'set straight' those who tax, offend, ignore or fail to respond the way I want them to...My task is humility, presence, expectancy and prayer.

In one breath I think: That's so hard!
In another I think: That's so freeing!
And the truth is, it is both.

Unclenching my fists,
Laying down my defensiveness,
Pausing from licking my wounds and protecting my pride,
Relinquishing control...
Those things are challenging when I am focused on me.

Having peace that the battle is not mine to fight,
Trusting in a plan far beyond my comprehension,
Being reminded of the forgiveness I have received,
Exhaling the bitterness and refocusing on grace.
This is freedom that is focused on Him.

This revelation won't exactly translate to my 9-12 year old audience tomorrow, but in the spirit of being fully present in this moment, I thank God that He gave it to me tonight.

1 comment:

Kate Geisen said...

Wow. This is something I really, really needed to read today. Thank you.