Do you ever get surprised by God? Have your found yourself expecting one thing, and then receiving so much more than you could ever ask for or imagine? That happened to me last week…in a huge way! Camp Splash was last week. Just like last year, the neighborhood kids and the youth and college age students had a terrific time of parachute games, water games, crafts and daily installments of the redemptive story of God’s creation, sin, the Savior Jesus and His bodily resurrection, and how He wants a relationship with us.
We heard the story of how we are reconciled to God through His son Jesus. But, we also experienced reconciliation with one another as we gathered and created community. God’s big surprise was the group of mama’s, caregivers and grandma’s who came to be with their children. They came the first day, Monday. I thought to myself – OK…they are coming to check this out. Not sure if they should leave their children unattended with a group of strangers. I don’t blame them. They just intently listened, watched and took it all in.
On Tuesday, they returned. And I thought – OK – this must be something. Is this God? At the end of the evening, I approached this loving group of women and asked if they might want to meet together while their kids were cared for and taught. They loudly agreed with a resounding – YES!
On Wednesday and Thursday, we met together and talked about our dreams for the community, our kids, our lives. We shared some of our history, our struggles, too. A time of prayer where we lifted our thanks and petitions to our God. By Friday, God was already answering! One person asked that we pray for joy…for peace.
On Thursday, I saw that some of the moms joined in the parachute games before we met together. By Friday, the moms were joining in the messy slime relay game – delivering non-toxic slime from one bucket to the other. Look at the HUGE smiles in these pictures. You can almost hear the giggles of joy. Thanks God for bringing a few minutes of joy and giggles through slimey games! And we know and love where everlasting joy comes from.
Starting this Thursday, we will continue to gather weekly and will start exploring THAT kind of Joy…joy unspeakable and full of glory…and that kind of Peace…peace that passes all understanding…
God-size surprises aren’t always HUGE and fancy. I am learning that God-size surprises may be small…unexpected…something that I definitely can’t take credit for. Something I never saw coming! God-size surprises are often in the everyday walk of life. He cares about and shows up in the mundane, routine, detailed parts of our lives. I love that.
Where do you see God working in your life in unexpected ways? In the routines of life?
I just love our weekly gathering. Some would call it a small group….others….a bible study….more might call it a missional community or a life group. Whatever you want to call it…I LOVE it! It started as a group of people from Commonwealth Chapel who met together for what we call Missional Community…where we did fellowship, read the Bible and prayed together. In addition…we would do things to meet the needs of our community. In this case, Southern Barton Heights.
So here we are…a couple of years later…and our group now consists of mainly our friends from the community…and just a couple of people from church. We experience real life together. We have gone through really hard things together…unemployment, drug and alcohol addictions, family “stuff”…and we have gone through the good things as well…employment! New cars! Sobriety! New people and friends! New homes! I can’t imagine life without my Thursday night gathering of friends…my Spiritual Family, who encourage me from one day to the next, who call me out when I’m not being real, who love me even when I mess up! I could go on and on!
We meet every Thursday night from 6-8pm. Or…something like 8pm. We are guilty of going til 8:30 or later…becasue we enjoy each other so much. But, people are free to scoot if they need to. If you want to come…and join us in real talk…real life….and learn about Jesus…we welcome you! We eat together (covered dish style) at 6-7p…while we also talk about what is happening in our lives. Then, we spend time talking about what God has to say to us through the Word…also known as the Bible. We close with some prayer…for our concerns, our community, and our city.
Starting the first week of January, we will be talking through the Seven Signs in John. Come and join us and bring a friend!