Last week we hosted our annual Vacation Bible School, and it was, as always, joyful. Each year we choose a theme that allows us to use the same Biblical costuming and set up the same village square area in our fellowship hall. The children love dressing up and belonging to one of the twelve tribes (although this year we only had three).
In the market square the children can make wooden boxes or other wooden items, dye cloth, string beads, learn to write Hebrew, weave, make bread, and of course, eat healthy (and somewhat authentic) snacks.
I am always the storyteller, and have my own tent where I share personal and Biblical stories that tie in with the themes and verses we are learning. Many of the children are returning for their second, third, or fourth summer, and it was wonderful when some of them remembered me as they entered my tent. Of course they remembered my service dog, Kirby. And they remembered Jake.
Jake was my older service dog, who passed away at the grand old age of 18 last October. All of the children who were here last year remembered him, and asked about him. When I told them he had gone to heaven, they told me that they missed him, and they all shared stories about him. Almost every one told me how Jake sat next to them and cuddled with them. As an older dog, he wasn’t much of a runner any more, but he was a cuddler. He knew when someone needed love and comfort, and he was right there to give it.
And it occurred to me that we all matter to someone, no matter who or what we are. No matter how small, how seemingly insignificant, we all have value. My little old dog who could no longer run and play, was still beloved by young children who needed a friend who would sit quietly with them, and lay his head on their lap. My 101-year-old friend Yvonetta with the 1000-kilowatt smile said that she felt useless because her mobility was limited and she was weak. But she was a necessary part of our congregation for the love she showered on each one of us.
I know at times I feel useless, especially when my body is betraying me in particularly nasty ways. I’m sure that many of us with disabilities feel that way when we are down. But seeing those children’s faces light up with recognition when they had only spent a few minutes with me for three days a year ago made me realize that I mattered. We all matter. We all have a precious part of God to share with others, and it shines through even when we feel too weak to project it. It isn’t us doing the work, it’s God. We are just the vessel, and God can use us just the way we are. God designed us to do the work, just the way we are. We matter.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well. Psalm 139:13-14
Dear Creator God, We thank you that you made us each so wonderfully and so wondrously, and that each one of us matters. Help us to remember that when we feel weak and insignificant. Please bless the workshops, forums, and roundtables that will be taking place, so that the participants and leaders come away refreshed with new insights and inspirations to make your kingdom on earth ever more welcoming. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.