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Reluctant Volunteer

Kathleen Kohler

A hand reached through the crowd in the church foyer and touched my shoulder. I turned to see Nancy, one of our most devoted Sunday school teachers. Nancy loved to teach children about the Lord. I marveled at her enthusiasm and how she seemed to draw energy from her class of five-year-olds.

"Hi Kathy, I need to take this summer off and wondered if you could step in for one month?"

My first reaction was to say no. I hesitated. After years of dedicated teaching she probably needed a break. "I'll pray about it," I said.

"Thanks Kathy, I knew I could count on you. Give me a call when you decide. Now, I only need to find two more people," she said as she hurried to catch the next victim." Being an optimist, Nancy took my reluctant answer as an almost sure yes.

"I'm just not a kid person," I moaned to my husband on the drive home. "I loved raising our kids when they were little. But, I'm not one of those women who can't wait to be trapped in a room full of other people's noisy, whiny children."

Well it's only for a few weeks and you did tell her you'd pray about it," he said. His lack of sympathy for my plight annoyed me. That evening, I prayed like I'd promised. The Lord's prompt response surprised me.

His answer, "Go the second mile."

"What... Lord, You can't mean I have to do two months? Nancy only asked me to commit to one. That's not even my area of ministry."

A second verse pierced my thoughts and silenced my protest.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord..."
Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

Nancy could hardly believe it when I called to tell her I would take the class for June, and July. "Really, you mean you're volunteering for both months?" Guilt stabbed like a needle as she showered me with thanks. If she only knew how I dreaded my new summer assignment.

Unexpected Blessing

Throughout May, like a child forced to eat canned peas, I complained over my pending sentence. A week before the first class, reality struck. I needed the Lord to reshape my view or this would be a disaster. I asked Him to forgive me for kicking against His will. Determined to do the best job I could, I prayed for His guidance. "Please help me Lord impress on these young minds how much You love them."

I awoke in the night from a sound sleep. Ideas for craft projects and creative ways to involve the children in the lessons raced through my head. Inspired, I jumped out of bed to scribble down notes.

I rose Sunday morning filled with expectation to see how God was going to work. With genuine joy, I greeted parents and children at the classroom door. The kids had fun with the craft and were eager to participate in the Bible story.

During snack time, I asked each child seated around the table if they had anything they wanted to pray about. The children voiced real concerns for their families. One said, "I want to pray for my brother. He's sick." Another said, "My parents yell at each other. It makes me sad." Humbled by their requests, I prayed for each one of them by name.

As July ended, I thanked the Lord for what He'd taught me during time spent in the children's Sunday school. Sometimes God calls me to step outside my typical area of ministry to help someone else and often it's because he has something He wants me to learn.

© 2010 Kathleen Kohler