For the past couple months, my church has offered sports camp and arts and crafts camp after first service on Sundays. I’ve helped out with the arts and crafts camp for the past few weeks, and this Sunday we were asked to give a testimony of what God has been teaching us through our time ministering to the children.
At first, I was just going to say something cliche, like learning about the creator God. But after pausing, the Lord really opened my eyes to how he was at work these past three weeks.
Each week we roll out the crisp, green butcher paper, and parents come to drop off their children for a couple hours while they go to service. The children are anywhere from 4-10 years old. Some of them are painfully shy at first, they merely nod and continue to look down at their drawing while you ask them questions. But after ten minutes or so, all of the children, shy or not, begin to open up, come out of their shells, and are so talkative that you have a hard time keeping up with them!
Last week, for example, one of the young boys entering first grade, opened up to me about a little girl who had come over to our table just to say hi to him. He told me that she liked him, and he bashfully told me that he liked her as well.
Another one of the boys told me about how his best friend has cancer, and how clean his room has to be kept, and how they can’t even play inside of it.
It amazes me how trusting they are. How they open up so readily about friendships, family, what they want to be when they grow up, love, etc. They share so easily, and they let people into their lives without fear.
Not only that, but every week we take simple supplies–paper, colored pencils, glue, and by the end of two hours, they transform it into something amazing that they get to take home. A beautiful piece of artwork for them to hang on their refrigerator, or a pendant for a necklace. Most times though, the children don’t understand how they’re going to go from point A to point B. It’s hard for them to see the big picture.
But they trust us. So they listen to direction, one step at a time.
Two weeks ago, we made a craft called Shrinky Dink. It starts with a piece of clear plastic, and the children sand it down, color it, and stick it in the oven where it shrinks to a quarter of its previous size.
Many kids had issues with the first step though–sanding it down. The piece of plastic goes from being clear to being cloudy, white, and all scratched up. The kids didn’t want to make their plastic look uglier, but we told them to trust us, because it’s a necessary part of the process. The scratches are what allow them to color the plastic with colored pencils, and once they’ve done that, they turn their precious artwork over to us so that we can place it in the oven.
Each week there’s a step where the children need to turn things over to us, whether it’s a difficult bit of cutting, or heating things up. And every week they hand it over so readily.
And God is the same way. He takes us, as simple people, and he asks us to give our lives over to him. Throughout our lives too, he’ll ask us to give things up to him–a relationship, a burden, a situation. We just have to have faith and trust like a child, knowing that he is good, that he has our best interests at heart, that he is the master craftsman. We know that by placing our lives, or our burdens in his hands, we know that our simple offerings will be transformed into something beautiful.
It’s difficult, as an adult. We’ve been so jaded by the world, by people, who don’t always have our best interests at heart, people who take for granted the precious things we give to them, and we’ve been hurt and disappointed as a result. We’ve become distrustful, and fearful of giving others that which we hold dear.
But with the Lord, there is no need to fear. There is no room for distrust. Sometimes the first step may be a little painful, as he sands us down. Sometimes things may even look a little bit ugly for a time. We don’t see the big picture, how things will all come together in the end. But all he asks us to do is trust him, one step at a time. He is a good and faithful God, who knows how each step will bring his final work to completion. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He works all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. So we trust. We will ourselves to trust like a child, to have faith like a child, and to let go and place it into our Father’s hands, the maker and creator of all things. He will make all things new. And his works are wonderful, we know that full well.