Before I forget to say it, I’d like to share a big “Thank you!” to all of you who helped out with our Vacation Bible School this year, whether in staffing, decorating, praying, providing lunches, or otherwise supporting the effort. We had more than 70 children join us--many of whom were unchurched--and aside from a slightly chaotic Thursday (ask any VBS staffers about it), everything went remarkably well. Several children accepted Christ, and multiple others made decisions to try to recommit themselves to Him more consciously in their lives, and that’s always exciting.
Besides that, I got to swing a sword several times, and that just tends to make my summer...
Oh, and to respond to several concerns: yes, we were able to find a home for Goliath, the horse that so many people had worked so hard on. He will be assisting with at least two more VBS programs at other churches this summer, and it sounds like he might ultimately retire to new pastures in Pekin. Thank you for all of your hard work!
In fact, we asked the children to all come back on Sunday to help us lead worship using their VBS songs, so it was good to see a few new faces up there this week. Sarah Warren and Anna Wietharn did an awesome job in their first year of leading the children in their singing this summer, and it was great to see our VBS kids up their being led in worship by our FCC teens. What a joy to see the legacy that our lives are leaving behind us.
We talked a bit about legacies in our message this week, as we looked at the confessional service conducted in Nehemiah 9. As the people looked back at all of the blessings that God had given them over the years--freedom from Egypt, a Law from God, manna from Heaven, water from stone, a holy land of their own taken from their enemies, etc.--they were drawn to praises of God’s faithfulness.
And yet, even as they confessed His goodness, we can’t help but be struck with their own not-so-goodness. Yes, they were freed from Egypt, but then they complained about how hard the wilderness was. Yes, Moses brought them God’s very own words, but they got tired of waiting for him, so they built their own god out of gold. Yes, they received manna from Heaven, but then they complained about how boring it got. Yes, they saw water come from a stone, but then Moses used that as his own, personal magic trick. Yes, they were given a holy, set apart land of their own, but then they tried desperately to be just like everyone else around them, down to demanding kings and idols and pagan families. We can pick on them, or we can look at ourselves and see how we’ve done much the same sorts of things--
“Yes, God has done X for me, but I still feel like I can complain about Y because...”
“Yes, God has always been faithful to me, but where was He today when I really wanted Him to do Z...?”
“Yes, God has blessed me with A, B, and C, to be used for His glory, but I’d really rather use them for my own enjoyment--I mean, I’ve gotten used to them, so they’re really mine now, right?”
The fact is, we can sometimes get confused and think that God’s job is to make us happy, healthy, and comfortable. We may not say it in so many words, but when we’re made happy, when we’re healed, or when we feel at peace, we can thank God for doing His job--and when we’re broken-hearted, or sick, or uncomfortable, we can sometimes be a little frustrated with God, as if He’s not doing His job.
The truth is, we’re not on vacation in this life, and God’s not our room service. He’s our Lord, and we are His people, and we need to spend more time consciously remembering that and less time focusing on doing things our way. The Jews figured that out in Nehemiah 9-10, and made a binding agreement to live as though they really believed that--not just to show up to worship services or do nice things or read their Bibles more, but to let God work on their inner hearts and get their thought-lives right. They put their names to this covenant, as if it were a contract with God.
How binding do you want to make your own covenant with God today? What kind of legacy do you want to be consciously building in your own life?