Sunday, July 19, 2009

God, Life and Everything - "The Fulcrum"

I write a biweekly column called "God, Life, and Everything" for the Hudson Valley News. The title reflects the broad scope I want to take. Everything in life falls under the eye of God, and if we watch carefully, we can catch a glimpse of God in it all.

I am sitting on the fulcrum of summer programming. Harry Goodpeople told me so.

He came to visit the other day and sat on my porch drinking a soda as he watched the rain. “Lucky for you that you were in North Carolina all last week,” he said. “Nothing but sun.”

“True,” I replied. “Ninety degrees in the shade and digging postholes all day. My son had it worse: he was on a tin roof all day.”

Harry would have none of it. He laughed at my complaint and said, “The rest of us have been enduring northern rain and work even when it was supposed to be warm and sunny. So what if you got hot? You had sun! And I bet you got to play some, didn’t you?”

Again, it was true. The group of eleven that I went with to North Carolina -- remember I wrote about going to Towel Camp -- worked each morning then cut out around 2:00 pm to take showers and rest. Most of the teenagers played football or threw a frisbee. The work team I was in charge of opted for ice cream after showers. I ate a lot of ice cream.

But we worked hard, too. Building, repairing, cleaning. I’ve bored so many people with reports of our mission trip that I’m afraid to say anything more. Except that now our trip is over, and we are rushing headlong into our next event.

That’s where Harry Goodpeople came in. While he wanted to talk about fishing (even though he knows I don’t fish), all I could talk about was Vacation Bible School. It’s next week, and even while we’re still cleaning out the Towel Camp van, I’ve been diving headfirst into VBS. Harry sipped soda while I paced the porch and talked of tents, registrations, games and songs for the kids.

I paced the porch and went on endlessly: “The recreation person doesn’t know what he’s doing yet, the CITs aren’t trained, the bible stories are still ragged…”

He held up his hand.

“You, my friend, are on the sitting on the fulcrum of summer programming.” I stopped short and cocked my head in confusion. “You’ve filled your summer with nothing but activity, and now you don’t know whether you’re coming or going.”

“But VBS is so important,” I protested. “It’s our opportunity to share the gospel with the community.” He snorted.

“Sure, but take it easy,” he said. “Sometimes what you need to do is take a deep breath and slow down. You just finished a big project. You’ve got one more real soon. But today you can breathe. You can look back at a job well done on one side, and look forward to a job you’re going to enjoy and through which you’ll touch young lives. Enjoy the moment, because it’s fleeting.”

“But we’re not ready! What if it falls apart! What if my volunteers fall through. What if I mess up!”

The hand went up again.

“It’ll be what it needs to be.”

I don’t know when Harry got so smart. Usually, I’m the one giving him advice. But as I quit pacing and sat down in an Adirondack chair, I could feel my racing nerves slow down and the stress ease up. Weight lifted from my shoulders.

“It’ll be what it needs to be,” I repeated.

“Sure,” said Harry, taking another relaxed sip. “Just take a moment to admire your work, the work of others, and God’s quirky sense of efficiency that never seems in a hurry to get much done.”

“It’ll be what it needs to be,” I said one last time, as if to brand it on my brain. And that’s right. VBS is stressful, and even while my mind is still buzzing about our mission camp last week, it looms ahead. We sit on the fulcrum of activity. But to know that it will be what it needs to be, no matter what that might be, is sheer freedom.

“There, isn’t that better?” Harry asked. And it was. He went inside and returned with an iced tea.

Our VBS is from Tuesday, July 21 - Friday July 24 (5:30 - 8:00 pm) and Saturday, July 25 (10:00 am - 12:30 pm). Cost is $15/child. Call 229-2820 for registration.