A few weeks ago we had VBS camp. Our church packs up our kids and takes them to camp for the weekend and does our VBS there. The kids love it and look forward to it every year. This was my 4th year of going along as a chaperone/leader. Because I was sick this year and had to pace myself, I got to observe more than ever before. I saw great beauty.
There were the usual things you see when you’re with kids. Smiles, lots of energy, skinned knees and little boys and girls who would rather talk and giggle than settle down and go to sleep. Looking a little closer, I see the truth of Luke 17:20-21 where the Pharisees have asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus’ response was that, “the coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
That weekend, in my midst was: a minister, a business owner, an attorney, a farmer, some grandparents, a firefighter, an artist, a student and more. This assorted mix of people was giving their time so that children could have fun and hear about how God loves them. They got a little bit of sleep in bunk beds, they made sure the kids were accounted for, they sang and played games and they answered lots of questions from “when is dinner?” to “how does someone lose their home?” They were paid in chicken nuggets, smiles, laughter and hugs.
And the kids. Some were quiet, some were loud. Some were ready for anything while others needed to be encouraged to get involved. Many different configurations of family were represented as well. There were the kids who seem to have an idyllic, carefree, traditional family. There was the brother and sister who were removed from their birth parents, but now have a safe haven of a home with loving parents. There is the child who has spent some time living in a shelter with her family. There are kids who have two moms or two dads.
But, sitting in pajamas, playing Twister, Hi-Ho-Cherry-o and Connect 4, you couldn’t tell who was who. You could just see the truth of who they are, beloved children of God. I hope that they felt that in the midst of stories, crafts and water games and that they remember this truth when life tells them something different.
As for me, I am keeping this glimpse of the kingdom close to my heart and treasuring it greatly.