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This is the time of year when many of us look at the church calendar and groan.  The church bulletin asks for more cookies and snacks for the kiddos during Vacation Bible School. To me that was always the biggest oxymoron on the planet. I never envision “vacation” and several hundred kids under 12 years old in the same sentence. Definitely not my idea of a holiday. My mind usually drifts to “Didn’t we just have a bake sale for the last youth mission trip?” during those announcements.

It seems we get in those circular church calendar ruts where we come right out of the youth discipleship weekend and go into the spring break mission trip and then gear up for youth choir trip and then all the various summer camps and leadership conferences and then the Glorieta trip or youth evangelism conference right before we head back to school. Then we get to buy more colored tape because the AWANA circle doesn’t stick to the carpet anymore.

It can become stale, repetitive, and sometimes boring. As I write this, I am actually about to take my 16- and 18-year-old sons to get on the bus for yet another camp. Oh I am happy for them, and I want them to have a good time and make memories, and I know the camp is amazing and does wonderful things, but do I really need another prayer bracelet?? That was my attitude until a few days ago….when God got ahold of my heart.

I was visiting with a young family recently consisting of Mom, Dad, and a young son who was about seven years old. I was with someone else who was doing most of the interaction. Consequently, I worked with the seven-year-old boy to keep him “occupied” while the parents visited with my colleague. I have years of experience in this field. He was a handful, and it seemed as if he had two double shots of espresso before they arrived at the restaurant.  Finally to calm him down, I pulled out my cell phone and showed him all my videos and pictures.

As we scrolled through, I showed him “my two boys,” and there was a picture of some medals they won in high school. Then he saw a picture of a friend of mine standing behind a podium leading music at a retirement center. He was sharp little guy, because he asked “Is this the man who gave your sons the medals?” I said “No, this is my friend telling these people about Jesus. You know Jesus – right?” He said “No”…………..

That was the saddest day in my life. My mother died more than four years ago at a fairly young age of 65 from cancer. Our family is not exactly sure of her spiritual condition (She was no June Cleaver), but she knew who Jesus was. That was sad – but not nearly as sad as staring a little boy in the face who just told you he doesn’t even know who Jesus is. So I asked him “You know Christmas – right?  Baby Jesus…?” He said “I know Christmas – but I don’t know Jesus”.  Ouch……. Trust me….. You do not want to feel what I felt at that moment.

PLEASE ….. do not take your church calendar and the children’s work for granted. Please……. Pray for the camps, pray for the kids, pray for the workers, pray for God to do His work. I do not want anyone to feel the conviction God placed on my heart for my flippant attitude toward the spiritual condition of others. How will they know if there is no one to tell them…???   I am going to make my own prayer bracelet this year, and I am going out to buy an entire case of cookies (for real…..). Thank you to all the children, youth and college workers/ministers out there – for God has used you to keep generations of our babies out of Satan’s grasp.