Every year at Vacation Bible School I watch as adults lead the excited children around the church from station to station, sing the songs (maybe we even do the accompanying motions), shout and laugh. Do we also, though, compartmentalize? Do we box up the VBS messages and declare they are just for kids and not relevant for us?
But is there any message in Scripture that God delivers just for people under 18? We older and wiser ones sometimes make faith so complicated and fail to recognize or really consider the beautiful truths in these simple messages. So, this week, I’m thinking about VBS and what the lessons for children mean for you and me. Our church is doing Group’s Sky VBS, so that’s what I’ll be sharing about here.
No Matter Who You Are….Trust God
I’m easily duped.
I view another person’s life from afar:
Big house, family vacations, nice cars: Finances are solid.
Posts on Facebook about a husband bringing home flowers and how often he cleans up the house, makes dinner and does bath night with the kids: Their marriage is strong and the husband is divinity in human flesh who puts all mere mortal husbands to shame.
Reports of kids’ school achievements, activity accomplishments and cute parenting stories about bedtime prayers and how much they love Jesus: They are perfect parents.
Then their life implodes. The marriage crumbles seemingly overnight with pain that’s been ripping away the threads of their home for years. They teeter on the cliff’s edge of bankruptcy and foreclosure or fall right on over into a financial pit. Their kids rebel. They disappear from church. Perhaps they seek solace in suicide.
And we all are catapulted into shock. We just didn’t know.
It’s true that a life without Jesus can’t be truly fruitful and that “a good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit” (Luke 6:43).
Sometimes, though, we’re terribly accomplished counterfeiters, building a facade of happy perfection that belies the truth of what happens in the hidden places of our lives . . . . our marriages . .. our homes . . . our families . . . even more pointedly our hearts. Maybe it’s just wax fruit that we’ve been surreptitiously tossing onto our branches all these years, but it looked so real.
It’s just impossible to know sometimes what goes on behind the closed doors of another person’s life.
But we try. In the same way, we might quickly glance at a person’s clothes, makeup or hair and decide whether or not they love Jesus or whether or not they are close to salvation.
Maybe we’re the ones making judgments about others or maybe we’re the ones playing pretend.
God can give us a spiritual discernment to help us see truth in these situations, but often times we finite-minded humans only have what we see–the outward appearance–to help us form judgments and make our minds up about people.
To quote from my favorite movie, The Philadelphia Story, though, “The time to make your mind up about people is never.”
Consider how God’s story would change if He was fooled by outward appearances as we often are:
He would have overlooked the prostitute Rahab as a potential savior for the Israelite spies.
He would never have chosen the teenage shepherd boy, David, to rule Israel.
Jesus would have selected pharisees and teachers of the law to be his disciples instead of a tax collector, a bunch of burly fisherman, and a guy so prone to doubt it became part of his name, good old Doubting Thomas.
A raging bull of a man bent on the destruction of the New Testament church would never have become the apostle to the gentiles, the great advocate for salvation by grace alone, and the predominant writer of the New Testament
And when a centurion burst through the mob surrounding Jesus and asked this miraculous healer to save his ailing servant, Jesus would have turned in disgust. This Roman soldier was an enemy. A Gentile. An occupier. Instead, Jesus, amazed by his faith, heals the ailing servant with a simple command.
Scripture confirms that “people judge by the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT). Aren’t you thankful for that?
King David shared this same wisdom with his son Solomon: “the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9). In Hebrews, we read that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
God always knows our motivations and the condition of our heart. He’s not duped as I am by the Kodak moment snapshots of our lives, where the makeup is perfect, the hair in place, the smiles just right.
He sees all the photos we rejected, not just the one we framed on the wall for all to see.
Yes, God knows the truth about us all—and the truth that God sees ever so clearly—-is that we all need a Savior.
And He is there ready to receive us, whether we’re joyful or broken with sorrow, whether our marriages are strong or crumbling, whether we live in massive new homes or tumbledown shacks, whether we’re church girls from way back or partyers who’ve discovered the emptiness of indulgence.
No matter who you are . . . trust God.
He doesn’t require us to have it all together before we stroll into His presence cocky and self-assured. He accepts us crawling in on our knees seeking grace, sweet grace, unmerited and undeserved salvation.
Then He lifts our heads up so we can gaze on His glory, covers us with forgiveness, redeems us and makes us new, uses us for His kingdom purposes, and invites us continually into His presence, where we don’t need to pretend or hide any more.
And He reminds us that others need to know this grace-giving Savior, too, not just those who look broken and needy, but even those who seem to have it all together. No matter who we are, we all need a Savior.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.