Cardboard Boats and God’s Sovereignty
“Unless the Lord floats the boat, those who row will paddle in vain.” This is my attempt at paraphrasing Psalm 127 after our post-VBS youth group excursion last week.
It was such a gift to help lead and serve alongside 53 of our middle school and high school students last week at VBS! I was so encouraged by the initiative many of our students took to selflessly lead, and I was thankful for extended time to get to know our students. There is something special about serving the Lord with a common mission and beat-up bodies that can unite a group of people!
After VBS on Friday a large group of our students went out to Cottonwood Beach where they received the task of creating their own cardboard boat they would soon race against one another. Each group spent nearly an hour and a half of their undivided attention using the cardboard, duct tape, pool noodles, and other miscellaneous items to create a boat that would hopefully last longer than a few seconds in the water. I took a lot of pleasure watching all the effort our students put into winning the competition. 😊 Several of the parents present at the beach were making predictions on which boat would last the longest, and surprisingly, the boat they had the least confidence in ended up being the only one to make it to the finish line!
After reflecting over the weekend, I think there are some similarities that can be drawn between our boat race and the work that goes into the various ministries in the life of our church. Many hours, days, and sometimes months are put into preparation for things like VBS or our weekend services. We use our limited resources and wisdom to do the best with what God has entrusted us with, but just like Psalm 127 teaches, our work is done in vain unless the Lord intervenes. Scripture teaches that our work holds a lot of importance and value, but it can only have an eternal impact when the Lord is the one who changes things.
If you are anything like me, after long weeks of work, I sometimes question if all the effort put in was worth it or used in the best ways. Did my work actually lead to change or growth? Did my boat sink, or did I make it to the finish line? I am grateful for the abundance of wisdom scripture provides regarding our work, but if it is not for the fact that we serve a sovereign God who is faithful and never changes, we can never have confidence that our work will produce fruit. Unlike building cardboard boats that will soon be hit by waves, our work does not have to be done in vain because of the many promises of who our God is in scripture! It is in these moments that I am especially thankful for passages like 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”