This past week we enjoyed a wonderful time of ministry at First Seattle. We had our first "Youth Extravaganza." We used this term because I like the word extravaganza. In reality, it was a short three day VBS that had a Western theme.
This Youth event was an attempt to jump start our ministry to families that I feel has not been as intentional or as extensive as it could have been. Like many established churches, we do not have many (enough?) young families and our congregation is getting older. Thus, I proposed a year ago that we try this type of event at the end of August to help us gear up for a more focused family ministry plan this fall.
I say all of that as background so you understand today's point. I have been working with folks and attempting to prepare for this event for many months. I had a goal in mind that we would have 40-60 kids. I thought this would be a good number to start. I prayed much for this event and this number of children.
On Thursday, the first day of the event, we had around 20 kids. We had enough volunteers to man all our stations, and I have to confess that everything went as I planned and hoped. The gospel went forth well. The kids had a great time. We even had two or three new families join us.
Yet, this number of kids did not meet my expectations. I went home disappointed.
That next morning, I awoke early to meet with my God in prayer and His Word. I talked with Him about our lack of kids. I prayed about it. I felt such encouragement from the Spirit that the YE was going great. I felt like He was saying, "Well done." I felt assured that I had done everything I could to bring the gospel to these children, and now God was at work.
Yet, what about my expectations? What about my prayer for more children?
On Friday, we did have some more kids. We also had some new families who have never been to our church join us. On Saturday, we had a carnival and meal for the families and kids. Again, several new families joined us. Overall, we had at least four or five completely non-churched families join us over the three days.
Yet, what about my prayers and expectation for 60 kids? We were well short of this total.
After it was all done, I had two families from our church share that this was the best church event that they had ever attended. They thought it was better than the big event VBSs of any other church. They shared how much their children just loved it! The music, the fellowship with others, the messages, the schedule. All of it worked.
Another person who had served as a team leader for six or eight kids shared how one new girl asked her, "What is this pray you are you talking about? What is pray?" The team leader shared that praying is talking to God. Later that evening when we asked the question for the day, "Who is this Jesus?" this same girl yelled out, "He is God!"
In other words, God was at work doing what He does best. He was drawing people to Himself. He was working behind the scenes and through our efforts. He was blessing us!
How often do I have such expectation for what God should do that I miss enjoying what God is actually doing!!!?
My expectations are often merely another form of the Law. They are my expectations of how I think the world should be. They are my beliefs about my importance, my plans, my destiny, my life.
The problem is that they also often do not match what God plans for me, for the future, and for how He will build His kingdom! All these expectations do is condemn me. They make me miserable. They place the law of sin and death squarely upon my shoulders.
As I move into the fall, I hope to enjoy what God is doing more. I want to know the law of the Spirit of life. I want to partner with Him instead of asking Him to be my co-pilot. Truly He needs to fly this machine and I am merely blessed to ride along!
I wish to ride the winds of the Spirit instead of trusting in work of my law. I bet I will enjoy life and ministry much more if He grants me the grace to do this. How about you?