“God made me,” our two year old daughter declared the other day.

She was beginning a dialogue between the two of us, as she sat on the toilet, and I patiently waited across from her, perched on a foot stool. After all, when you have toddlers, you meet them where they are. Often times, that involves rather humbling surroundings. But regardless of where these conversations take place, the truth is that little ones are capable of comprehending so much more than we often give them credit for.

That day, our discussion continued with her asking, “Where is God?”

Legitimate question.

And then her little face turned so serious as she said, “I miss God.” There, on the bathroom floor that day, I explained to my daughter the incredible truth of God’s omnipresence. I assured her that she doesn’t have to miss Him because He is always with her.

And then a few months ago, our four year old son—our wild child who can’t sit still to save his life—was squirming in his seat next to me during church. It was Palm Sunday. The pastor was telling the story of Jesus’ triumphant march into Jerusalem which was shortly followed by his brutal arrest. The pastor must have used some typical transition words because at one point, our son loudly exclaimed, “He said butt!” His outburst was followed by peals of laughter, of course. I rolled my eyes, scolded him for being loud, and quickly shoved a notebook and pen his way in order to channel his energy elsewhere.

The sermon continued. Our son was intently drawing when the pastor began to talk about the soldiers coming to find Jesus in the garden. And just when I thought, for sure, he was tuning every thing out as he fully invested in the artwork he was creating, he looked up at me and asked this: “Mom, why didn’t God just make the Jewish soldiers good?” He is four, folks. This is a difficult question even for adults.

Here’s what this has to do with you, dear volunteer, who has naively signed up to work with preschoolers at VBS this year. The opportunity at hand is way more than, perhaps, you realize.

Maybe you signed up specifically to help with preschoolers because you think they’re cute. Maybe you thought you were just going to play and distribute Goldfish. It’s possible you thought you might’ve been dodging the deep conversations that are more likely to arise when you’re helping with the elementary kids. I hate to burst your bubble, but the responsibility you hold as a preschool leader is huge. This is not simply babysitting by any means. And that’s certainly not the case in Vacation Bible School.

Those little ones were listening even when we thought that surely they’re weren’t. They were grasping concepts because they were made by a God who wired them to wonder about Him. And even though much of your time at VBS may have been spent on the bathroom floor or redirecting an unruly child, I encourage you to look beyond what you could see with your eyes. When you give your free time to work with kids, you are participating in the formation of their foundational beliefs—the oh so necessary building blocks—about God and who He is. And that’s a big deal.

I commend you for your willingness to volunteer a week of your summer. I admire you for choosing to help with the little ones. You were amazing. You are amazing. You are brave. And finally, I thank you, on behalf of all the parents of preschoolers who were a part of your group. Because as I listen to my own children ponder these questions about God, I am confident that I have benefitted, first hand, from leaders like you.

. . .

Written by Ashley Litton

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