It was a typical Friday afternoon drive down I-405. We had just left the final day of Vacation Bible Adventure (VBA) and were slogging our way down the freeway, trying to get my 13-year-old son, Oliver, to his soccer tournament in Renton. Enya was blasting on the CD player to soothe three-month old Seth, screaming in his car seat. In the very back were nine-year-old Rosalind and seven-year-old Rhett. I was thinking about a million different things: wondering how I was going to get kids to a swim meet and soccer game the next day with my husband out of town, whether there was a Dairy Queen close to the soccer field for pre-game treats, if I had time to stop at Starbucks to get me through the next 3 hours, when out of the blue a voice spoke up from the back seat, “I think I’ve changed.” I turned down the stereo, irritated that our Enya-Zen was being interrupted. “What did you say?” I yelled to the back. Rhett looked up and met my eyes in the rearview mirror. “I think I’ve changed, Mom,” he said again. “I love Jesus more than I used to.”
We had spent the week at VBA together. Oliver volunteered with the preschoolers, helping with their recreation time (and making frequent trips to the staff lounge for food). I took care of baby Seth while working with the drama team, playing the characters of Leper Harriet, a woman at the well, and Annanias, among others. We taught the kids that Jesus loves you, no matter what. It didn’t matter if you felt left out, if you were different, or if you had done wrong, Jesus still loves you. Rosalind and Rhett were part of the audience watching the Bible stories acted out, as well as other activities during the week like making crafts, doing science experiments, eating snacks, and hanging out with their friends. They had a great week and I did too, although I wondered sometimes if it was worth the interrupted baby-naps, exhaustion, and neglected house from spending every afternoon at the church.
It didn’t matter if you felt left out, if you were different, or if you had done wrong, Jesus still loves you.
“How do you love Jesus more?” I asked Rhett, suddenly realizing how much more there was to our week than interrupted naptime. He went on to tell me that he asked Jesus into his heart during Science Time that day. Rhett heard all week about how much Jesus loved him, and when asked by his teacher, he decided that he wanted to love Jesus for his whole life too. It brought to mind my own Vacation Bible School story, and I told my kids that I could still vividly remember sitting in the Sanctuary of my church thirty-some years earlier and asking Jesus to come into my own heart.
Rhett recently told me he wants to be “bathtized” and tell everyone what he did at VBA last summer. I couldn’t agree more. And you’ll see us all back at VBA in a few months, looking a little harried with a nap-deprived toddler in tow, but knowing that what we learn might just change our lives forever.