This past Wednesday night was the closing ceremony and awards night for the 2017-2018 year of Awana. The theme was that of an awards ceremony. The church was even set up with a red carpet and stars with the clubbers names on them:
We were all dressed up in gowns and suits (the Truth & Training leaders pictured below):
When we handed out the awards to the clubbers, we’d open the envelope as they do at the Oscars. It was an exciting night in a night full of a sense of accomplishment for a year of pouring our lives into these precious clubbers.
A few weeks earlier in our ministry leaders meeting, I revealed to the Elders, Pastors and other leaders of our Church that I would be stepping back from some ministry responsibilities after this semester ends at the end of May. I would no longer be facilitating the weekly Sunday morning Apologetics glass, and nor would I continue with my responsibilities as an Awana leader. Everyone seemed shocked. But I had resolved in my mind that I had too much on my plate and needed to step away from some of those responsibilities as I was getting a bit burned out. My devotional life was suffering, and most of my time throughout the weekday mornings, 2 hours a day, was spent researching and preparing material for the weekly Apologetics class. So I stand resolute in that decision – that I need to step away from that Apologetics class for next year.
However, last Wednesday night at the Awana awards ceremony, my heart was moved. One of the clubbers that I had spent significant amount of time with throughout the year, a fifth grade clubber who is extremely gifted in spiritual understanding and Bible memorization, the week before I given her a gift bag with several items in it (a jump rope, a little soft pink creature, some sparkly wristbands, and a cross necklace). I also gave her a card where I had written out a lengthy message to her expressing my great appreciation of how God was moving in her life, and how I really enjoyed the year teaching her about the Bible, about God, and having our little conversations every week. In that message, I let her know that I would not be back next year.
So on the awards night, she gave me a card. After the awards ceremony, on our church patio, they had cookies and refreshments for all the parents and clubbers. So I went out there, and she and her Mom were the first people I ran into. I told her mother that she was a great pleasure to have in our club this year. I praised her front of her mother and I told her (the AWANA clubber) that I was really really going to miss her. But I promised to come back and visit at least one night next year and that if she wasn’t there that night, that I would come back another night. That seemed to make her happy. Then she encouraged me to open her card. I’ll let the card speak for itself:
The Cover of the Card
The Content of the Card
After experiencing what I did on the Awana Awards night especially opening this card, I was thinking about it Wednesday night, and even dreaming about it throughout the night. I woke up thinking about it Thursday morning. I reread the card. This time it wasn’t almost crying, but it was really crying. I thought to myself, how selfish I you are. Why are you really stepping away from AWANA? At the end of the day, there are many reasons I could give, and one could consider them valid reasons. For one, I’m not a disciplinarian. We had a rough year this year. There were several 6th grade boys who were misbehaving – not paying attention and causing trouble. I let them discourage me. I started to feel like I was having no impact and that I was unable to relate to these kids. Yet I did enjoy spending the time with the clubbers who really were there and really were paying attention and really were getting something out of it. But I let the negative experiences overwhelm me to the point where I felt like I needed a break.
Thursday morning while I was taking my shower I was thinking, God please guide me. I was praying Psalm 23. Especially the part where it says “guide me in paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake”. I started to ask myself, is AWANA good, or is it bad? I don’t know where this line of questioning came from. Of course the answer was that AWANA is good. Then the verse popped into my mind, James 4:17. “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins”. So I suddenly came to the realization that leaving AWANA, which I knew to be good, was purely selfish. And that it was sin, according to James 4:17, plain and simple. I certainly understand that this verse could be used to compel me to do all sorts of things I’m not currently doing, but I really felt that the Holy Spirit was convicting me through this verse.
So I think that I’ve determined in my mind that I will continue to be in Awana leader this coming fall. The Holy Spirit really worked me over Wednesday and Thursday about this issue. He reached me and melted my heart the loving words of one of His precious children. Wow…
I praise the Lord that he is dealt with me and humbled his servant. May your name be praised Lord Jesus. Amen!