Last time I wrote on the VOICE blog, it was about the beauty of friendships in Bible Lab. (You can read about it here). In addition to Bible Lab, God has given me some of my best friends through serving in the Children’s Institute. However, this year, God had something a little different — even better than friends — prepared for me.
This year was very difficult preparing for the CI. Each year, the CIs have been steadily growing smaller, and it has become more difficult to find people able to come teach. In the past, God has always blessed me with a good guy friend to come serve with me throughout the whole month, people like David Lukachick, Jerry Simpson, Simon Yeh, guys who I could trust to have my back, to give me advice, to give me support. This year, only three people, including myself, were able to go to all of the CIs. While God provided enough people for us in each city, I felt like a captain on a slowly sinking ship, just trying to scrape by long enough to make it to harbor.
However, once the CI began, I discovered that I was still finding joy in serving him. Sure, there were fewer children, but that made it possible for me to become much closer to the children who did come. Sure, not many teachers were able to help for the entire time, but God brought enough teachers who helped out for a week or two, and I had a wonderful time with everyone who came. In devotions every day, I was amazed to see how God’s word would come to life. Telling stories was still as fun as ever, and I also got inspiration to create a new story that evolved from week to week.
The night before the final day of the CI, I laid in bed, reflecting on the past ten years that I have led the CI. I realized that this could very well be the last day for me to lead a CI trip. I also remembered what my sister Karen’s last day of the CI was like, the deep emotions, the tears, the special memories. What would my final day look like?
I began to put together a list of what I wanted to take place on my last day. I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, everything going perfectly, with a satisfying emotional end. As my list grew longer and longer, I realized that probably none of the things on my list would actually come true. To my surprise, I also realized that I was satisfied. I didn’t need anything else to make me happy. I pictured holding my wish list in my hands, kneeling before Jesus, giving Him my list.
At this point, I felt Jesus smiling at me with joy, and then saying to me, “Tim, do you know why none of your best friends were here with you this year? It is because this year, I wanted to be your best friend.”
I felt God’s love enveloping me. Tears streamed down my face. God gave me a perfect end to the CI, in a special moment just between Him and me.