DISCLAIMER: This post, as with pretty much all my posts, are just my thoughts about what is going on in my heart and life. I share my thoughts and opinions, which may be wrong and/or changed at any time. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions and acknowledge your right to also change those at any time.
It's amazing how God really changes your heart over time. Things that once were super important now seem almost silly. Things that once drove you crazy are now almost a comfort. Things you once thought you would never do, you find you are doing all the time. Only God!
God is really using Afterschool Adventures to change this old heart of mine. He has opened my eyes to the pain and hurt that is right here in my own community. He has opened my heart to the needs of some of the most vulnerable and their just across the street from my church. He has shown me the uselessness of mere events if there's no love and time and effort put in with those you invite. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that relationship (pouring your time, effort, love, talent, money, etc on a consistent basis over a period of time) trumps one-time events about 95% of the time. This may not be new information to most of you, but it's revolutionary and painful for me. You see, events are so much easier and more natural for me. Relationships, not so much! (If you've ever read my previous posts, you'll understand this!) Afterschool has really driven this home. Yes, we offer them an event, but the purpose of the event isn't merely to get them into the church doors or to add numbers. The reason we meet with them every week is so we can love on them and earn the right to tell them who God is and what He has done for them by sending Jesus to die in their place. It's definitely not a one-time event. And it's far messier than I ever thought it would be. Just trying to figure out their families trees is enough to make me want to sit and cry. Talk about messy! Some weeks they are short on obedience and full of personality. Some weeks (like this past week), the give us wonderful surprises when about half the group was able to share the Family Quest for their first time ever! God is so good! We've had some of our kids move away and we have no idea where they are now. Some of our kids have moved away, Jennifer was able to track them down, and we are able to swing by and pick them up and make sure they are there to learn about God each week. Some weeks the kids are running from us, sometimes they are clinging to us and we can barely move. Every week we deal with kids whose only reactions to frustration are fight or flight. And we've seen a few of those learn that there are other options...and they've tried to avoid the fight or flight. I don't know that there have been any major changes, but we are slowly starting to see small changes, here and there. It really is like they are our own children and we are praying for their salvation, attitudes, home life, grades, etc. Believe me, I never thought I would feel more comfortable sharing Christ by building relationships and walking this messy life with others, loving them like they are my own family, and pouring out anything and everything I can for others in His name. And it's not that I don;t like events, I just view them differently and try to plan them much more carefully than before.
I am so thankful to be at a church with so many fine examples of people who truly live this out. They don't settle for merely throwing and event, tossing out the Gospel, and just hoping someone comes forward at the end. They live out this messy faith, messy life, and plunge in to give their all to share the amazing love of their Creator with others who have no hope in this fallen world. They do this in their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and in their families. I am so thankful to be at a church that strives to do more than just host events. This has not been an easy road, I am sure, but one I am glad we are taking.
Lord, continue to change my heart to be more like Yours. Help me to truly be Your hands and feet to all I meet each day. Help me to be the example my kids need to see when it comes to living out my faith, trusting in You, sharing You with others, and giving all I can of myself and the resources You've given me to share You with others. Lord, lead, guide, and give me wisdom to say "yes" when I need to or "no" when I need to. Draw my children to you!