Something strange happened to me the other day. I got an email from the children’s pastor of the church I’ve been attending. I met her back in October and told her I’d love to join the ministry, help out wherever I could. She sent me an application and somehow completing it kept moving farther down on my to-do list. I finally sent it to her a couple weeks ago and realized, much to my horror, that I had become one of those volunteers who always drove me nuts. Oh well, what can I do about that misstep now? Anyway, I got an email from her this week with two seemingly simple questions:
How many weeks per month can you serve?
Which services are you available to serve?
Huh? What do you mean how often and which services? All of them? Isn’t that the way it goes? All of them. Every last one. Cause that’s what I do. That’s what I’ve always done. From the time I started teaching Sunday school as a 14 year old high school kid, I’ve (almost) always been involved on a weekly basis. What else is there to do on Sundays but to hang out with kids and show them Jesus’ love?
So, I put off answering her. Not because I didn’t want to answer but because I honestly didn’t know what to tell her. I know that with my school schedule I can’t reasonably commit to serving every week, but how does that translate to an answer to her question?
That email got me to thinking about all the kids I’ve known over the years. I started working in children’s ministry 13 years ago. The first batch of kids subjected to my insanity are now in college. I remember 7 year old Caleb asking me if a “whoremonger” was like President Clinton and my bumbling attempt at answering. (Seriously, whatever nutjob wrote a 2nd grade Sunday school lesson including the word “whoremonger” really needed to have his head checked!). I remember a professor’s daughter requesting prayer for her mommy and baby sister who didn’t get to come home from the hospital but went to be with Jesus instead. I remember the horror I felt when one little boy told me he wanted to marry Britney Spears when he grew up. I remember walking around “Jericho” and watching the walls fall. I remember the astonished faces after seeing the empty “tomb” even though they just saw me put marshmallow-Jesus inside. I remember wearing absolutely ridiculous costumes and trying to speak in funny accents. I remember shouting memory verses so loud someone was sent up to tell us to hold it down (which might have been our goal). I remember my friend the fly who used to fly all the way from Bible lands to tell the kids stories, which I of course had to translate since kids can’t speak fly. I remember lunches at McDonald’s after church cause when you’re 9 and you get to pick lunch, you pick a happy meal. I remember the happy kids and the sad kids; the kids who filled my heart with joy and the ones who broke my heart. I remember simple prayers and sticky hands and peed on shorts. How many times have I sang “who made the monkeys/cows/stars/me? God did! God did!” How many faces and fannies have I wiped? How many threats and bribes and hugs?
As I remember, I know where I belong.
And that strange question still seems strange.