Friday, December 19, 2008

can't see the forest...

At youth group with my girls.

I've been thinking back to my days as a youth leader at our old church in California. The last year that I was there I was leading a weekly high school girls' Bible study. I put in hours preparing each week, thinking through each lesson, praying for the girls and for our time together. There were a few girls in particular that I would often pray for, girls that I considered to be leaders and role models for the rest of the group. But week after week, these same girls made excuses and found reasons not to show up to Bible study. Maybe they had legitimate reasons, I don't know. All I know is that almost every week I was bummed out that they weren't there.

OK, so the three or four girls who I really wanted to come usually didn't show. But who did? The group was small each week, but there were a few girls who came every time, and I am just now realizing... I don't think I even noticed them. I was so busy worrying about who wasn't coming that I forgot to see who was already there. I'd like to think that I put together some pretty darn good lessons and discussions... but I usually came home from them disappointed because so-and-so wasn't there. Basically, it didn't happen just the way I pictured, so therefore it's a disappointment. What a small picture of God's kingdom! Surely it is bigger than my expectations. How often do we miss what God is doing while we're obsessing over what He's not doing?

I am remembering that the kingdom of God looks upside-down sometimes. God doesn't need big crowds or powerful individuals to accomplish His purposes. The places where God is moving don't always look successful or even important. Don't we have ample visual evidence of that at this time of year in our nativity scenes? Stables and shepherds, what could be more common and trivial? We are seeking God on our terms, waiting for Him to do what we expect. In the meantime, while we're looking for a parade or maybe a limo, God is defying expectations and breaking into humanity by way of a trough.

God doesn't do what we expect, so I want to stop expecting and start seeing. I want to stop complaining and start noticing. I know God is working. Even in the places where I am experiencing disappointment and frustration, God is not silent. Maybe it's not what I was hoping for, but who am I? Who am I to say what God should do? I know He is at work, and that is enough for me.

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