I find it interesting that often the things that we are most afraid of, or the most reluctant to do, end up being some of the biggest blessings. At least, I've found this to be the case for me.
This summer, since I was going to be down in Tennessee, I offered to help with the kids' Sabbath School program at North River. It's something I had wanted to help out with for a long time, but for various reasons, hadn't. Oddly enough, even though I wanted to help with it, I was very hesitant and scared.
What if the kids don't like me? I don't think I can tell the stories as well as others might be able to... God, I don't know about this... what have I gotten myself into?
I don't know why I worry so much, although, God is helping me. Anyway, Sabbath school has turned out to be a big blessing for me. And I can see that God is using me, which makes it even more worthwhile.
A few weeks back, I went up to the Sabbath school room, and there were no kids. At first, I was relieved because it meant that I didn't have to be nervous about anything. Then, Terry walked in the door.
Terry is an 11 or 12 year old girl who has grown up in downtown Chattanooga. She started coming to North River when the church had an Evangelistic Seminar and Kid's Evangelistic Program a little more than a year ago. Most of the kids who came to the meetings were from bad home situations. It was really challenging to work with them because they rarely sat still, frequently got into physical fights with each other, and were just in general a little out of control.
At one point during the Kid's Program last year, there was a lot of debate over whether or not to ban some of the kids from coming back because they just couldn't be controlled and things had gotten a little out of hand. After much prayer, pleading, some re-organization, and a lot of God's help, we were able to finish out the program without banning any of the kids.
Like I said, Terry was one of the kids who first started coming to North River for the Kid's Evangelistic Program. To be completely honest, she was actually one of the worst of the kids behaviorally. She would constantly be hitting others, threatening them, and causing strife.
When she came into the Sabbath school room, she sat down and we talked for a little bit. Then she asked if we could color, and I said, "Sure, why not."
We were coloring and she started talking to me about what was going on in her life. After a few minutes, she looked up at me and said, "It's so nice to have someone who listens to me. I don't really have any friends who listen."
We must have talked for a good half hour. I was able to talk to her about dating, God, and some other life stuff, and it was a really good conversation. We also sang a couple songs while we colored. Then I realized what time it was.
"Do you mind if I tell you the story for this week while we finish coloring?"
The lesson that week was on Elisha making the axehead float and how God blinded the Aramean army and sent His army to protect Elisha and his servant (2 Kings 6). I told her about Elisha's servant being scared because the Aramean army had surrounded the city they were staying in, and how Elisha told him "Don't be afraid... Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." I told her about God opening the servant's eyes so that he saw the armies of God, the chariots of fire, surrounding them with protection. I finished telling the rest of the story- that because the King of Israel listened to Elisha's advice and fed the enemy and set them free, they stopped raiding Israel, and that God has ways to sort out our problems and fight our battles for us that are better than our own solutions.
"Man. I wish God was on my side like that. I wish he would help me fight my battles," she said as she looked up at me from her picture.
I know the Holy Spirit must have helped me out because I didn't know how to respond to that. I haven't often gotten such an open invitation to share about God. I told her that God desperately wants to fight for her, to work things out for her. I told her I knew this because I had seen God fight battles for me; I had seen God work in my life.
"Like when?" she asked.
So I told her a few stories of how God had intervened in my life, mostly recent stories from this summer. Then we prayed together and she went downstairs to the sanctuary while I put away the coloring things.
As I was putting things away, I prayed and thanked God for the amazing opportunity I had just had to share. It was a huge blessing for me. I began to think about Terry and how much she had changed in just one year. She comes to church regularly, doesn't hit or terrorize other kids, and now she's openly stating that she wants God to be on her side. I was truly in awe at the power of God and the Holy Spirit.
You know, Terry was one of the kids that was supposed to be banned from coming back to the meetings. I can't help but think, What if she had been banned? We were willing to give her up as a lost cause because she was too far gone for us to reach. I'm glad that God's arm is never too short, and that He doesn't give up on even the toughest of souls.
I guess Terry's wish was answered even before she asked: God's already on her side.