All week long I’m thinking about the Bible points for our Vacation Bible School and what they mean for adults. This week will be a mix of some old and some new as I share these lessons.
Today at Kingdom Rock VBS (Group Publishing), we’re learning: Family and Friends Help Us…Stand Strong!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “So encourage each other and build each other up”
Adapted from “We’ve Got to Pray,” originally published November 26, 2012
I saw it when I took my kids to the zoo.
We walked through the darkened reptile house and stopped at every single window trying to find the tomato frog, the pancake turtle, the boa, the green tree snake, the cotton mouth. Sometimes we stared carefully through the glass for minutes, examining every leaf and rock, trying not to give up.
Occasionally, the family in front of us helpfully pointed out the camouflaged creature and we passed the news along: “There he is…do you see him? On the big tree in the back.”
My older daughters patiently pointed out lizard after lizard, snake after snake for their three-year-old sister and waited for her to follow their pointing fingers until she could exclaim, “Oh, I see him!” with a giggle.
And then, when she needed to be given a boost to see the meerkats in the Africa exhibit, my youngest daughter didn’t even need to ask for a boost. Without a second’s pause, her older sister hoisted her up onto the shelf and held her while she peered against the glass.
As we finished for the day, I–the super-planner, never-spontaneous mom— actually gave my kids permission to run and play in the fountains with the other kids. The sun had finally warmed up the day and maybe it was crazy and thoroughly impractical of me, but I sat on the bench while my daughters splashed, ran and giggled.
Even then, I saw it. My three-year-old looking around, not seeing me, and her older sisters bringing her to where I sat. Then, as they played, they led her by the hand, they smoothed her wet hair away from her face, they called her over to join them.
It wasn’t a burden to help. It was a joy, to be the big sister, the one who could be depended on, the cheerful face, the kind voice and the strong arms that a little sister needed to feel loved and safe.
And there I was, sitting in those benches around the zoo fountains just watching my daughters.
They were teaching me that day, teaching me how to be the bigger sister. Teaching me how to come alongside others who are in need, others who need a boost, others who need a friendly smile and someone to notice their lostness and lead them to a Savior.
But they also taught me how to be the younger sister. How to trust others and the helping hands they offer. How not to give up and despair when the blessing is out of reach or I can’t see the hope camouflaged among the mess.
Too often we try to go it alone out of pride, or shame, or inferiority, or just not knowing where to turn. We could sit there at our kitchen tables by ourselves with our Bible and prayer journal and pray.
Yet, Scripture reminds us of the power of praying together.
When Esther prepared to enter King Xerxes’s presence uninvited, placing her life in jeopardy in order to save her people from mass genocide, she didn’t just pray on her own.
She organized a nationwide prayer meeting, instructing all the Jews of Susa to “fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same…” (Esther 4:16 NLT).
Her story isn’t one of a lone heroine rising to face an enemy. She trusted in the advice, counsel, encouragement and prayers of her godly cousin Mordecai and depended on the intercession of her people. Without it, maybe she wouldn’t have stood before the king and the Jews would have been slaughtered.
Jesus didn’t just fall to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane alone as he waited for his betrayer to arrive with an army of soldiers and an unwelcome kiss. He took along “Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:37-38).
Paul, who seemed so confident and capable in ministry and who always seemed content and able to rejoice despite circumstances, wasn’t afraid to ask the church in Ephesus to “pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan…” (Ephesians 6:19 NLT).
God brings us others because He didn’t design us to walk through the dark places alone. He created us for community and formed shoulders to help carry burdens and hands to hold hands. He meant for family and friends to help us stand strong…and for us to help others do the same.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King