“When you’re lonely, Jesus rescues!” our kids cried out in enthusiastic unison. Spurred on by a pair of gregarious and silly characters trapped on a deserted island, the children were pumped.
It was our Vacation Bible School week. On each of the five days, there was a different life situation highlighted—when you’re lonely, when you worry, when you struggle, when you do wrong, when you’re powerless—from which Jesus rescues the characters. By the end of the week, with only the slightest hint of invitation, the kids belted out with glee, “Jesus rescues!”
I imagine that similar clichéd truths were joyfully proclaimed at VBS programs far and wide this summer.
As I sat, watching and listening, I have to admit I squirmed more than a little. “Yeah, but . . . ,” my mind and heart quietly cried out as I mulled over these seemingly over-simplistic ideas.
Do these kids know that Jesus doesn’t always rescue immediately? Are they aware that his rescue isn’t always what we expect? Do they know that some of these promises won’t be fully delivered until Jesus returns in glory to fully set up his kingdom?
I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps we were setting our kids up for failure. Would their faith come crashing down one day when the realities of this world didn’t fit these neat and tidy boxes?
Will each one of these kids reach the point where they painfully cry out to God like the Psalmist, or at least silently wonder, “Why have you forsaken me?” Will they then walk away from their faith, believing it to be pie-in-the-sky hogwash, because Jesus didn’t rescue them like they were promised in VBS when they were 7?
I wanted to teach them about the calamity that came upon Job, Jacob’s wrestling with God, the Babylonian exile, and the terrorized believers to whom John wrote his apocalyptic vision.
But I supposed that would be the solid food, the meat for which these kids might not yet be ready. As Paul suggests in II Corinthians 3, early nourishment ought to consist of milk, rather than meat. These youngsters will need that hearty food at some point. Along the journey, they’ll need to learn the questions, the complexities and the nuances. With time, through discovery of the fullness of God’s Word, may their faith grow to be robust and sturdy.
At least to start, though, we will nurture the childlike faith that Jesus calls us all to: the beauty of a hopeful, unquestioning, eager and trusting faith. Milk first. It might seem a little clichéd. But judging by the enthusiasm of the kids, they didn’t seem to mind. They were delighting in the wonderful and true promise that Jesus rescues.
As this is my final “Kingdom yearnings” submission, I’d like to say thank you to all who’ve been reading along. I’m also thankful to Canadian Mennonite for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the conversation over the past year-and-a-half. As many readers may know, my congregation, Kingsfield-Zurich Mennonite Church, is in the midst of exploring a possible transition to a denominational affiliation that we feel would be a better fit. In light of this, I felt it would be unhelpful for me to continue writing for CM. It’s my hope and prayer that the good news of our crucified and resurrected king, Jesus Christ, will always be held high throughout Mennonite Church Canada. Please also pray for us, as we seek to walk the path we believe God is calling us to.