Tonight was Backwards Night at our church's Awana club. This meant that participants wore their clothes backwards...or at least their club shirts--collars and plackets gaping between the shoulder blades. Oh, and extra points were awarded for the few overachievers who actually wriggled into their jeans backwards. I excused myself from that endeavor.
The game segment of the evening was also backwards: circles were run clockwise instead of counter-clockwise; teams with the fewest points won; and the 'hockey' game that usually closes the evening was at the top of the game agenda.
But, as I stood on our team line, looking down the row of heads as the girls waited for their next turn, I was struck anew with the realization that there's no backward rewind down here. I've been through too many iterations of the process. The eager faces that assemble each fall inexorably change by the end of the year; the little girl cheeks become a bit less rounded, the mannerisms and gait more or less awkward, depending on where they have landed on the growth curve.
But the progess is relentlessly forward in time.
So all we have are moments, snatched from the flowing tide of time: moments on Wednesday nights, plucked between dinner and bedtime, to try to impart nuggets of timeless truth. To provide safe, wholesome fun that exercises the "large muscles groups"; to give one-on-one attention to a 10 year-old striving to memorize a Scripture passage that may be brought to mind at some future time when she arrives at a fork in her road.
This flaxen haired girl is new, but has come consistently since she was first invited. She is determined, but open, and paid attention when I shared the Gospel with her a few weeks ago. Next year she will be too old for this club and will move on to something else...may it not erode or obscure the seeds of eternity that we have tried to plant in her heart.
There are nights when slogging through slushy streets back to the familiar parking lot is the absolute last thing I want to do. But, it's always worth it. The time goes so quickly. And I remind myself that any lasting value is attributable to the Holy Spirit working in lives, young and old.
My job has been to show up and give it a go, trusting that the investment of time and energy will yield eternal dividends.