Wednesday was rolling around again, and my continued complaining to Brad had resumed.
“All they do is talk.”
“I don’t feel like we are making any type of impact.”
“I have no idea where these kids are at and I’m pretty sure we aren’t getting anywhere.”
Wednesday afternoons, from 2:30pm to 3:30pm, are dedicated to DNA groups at the Alliance Academy International. DNA, short for Discipleship, Nurturing, and Accountability, is a work in progress to bridge the gap between monthly chapels and building intentional relationships with high school students in a small group setting. The group centers around an activity that many have in common and presents a mutual starting point for building community. With that in mind, my friend Ashley and I started a group that focuses on cooking, and blessing others through the results of the food that is made.
When we started out the year, we had some immediate obstacles due to the some outright animosity between students…the issues ran deep and branched all the way into families. Needless to say, there was much to overcome, and we had kids within the group that didn’t even speak to each other. When we formed groups, there was no mixing. We couldn’t have meaningful and deep conversations – we could barely get a cooking activity done.
As the days and weeks changed into months, we saw some progress by Christmas. Now, we could sit around a table for a few minutes at a time, and try to share some short spiritual truths, but, to be honest, I continued to be discouraged, instead focusing on the lack of relationships that I had built with these kids and the feeling that we were just spinning our wheels and not truly discipling, nurturing, or holding anyone accountable. I kept showing up, and did enjoy being around the kids each week and all their energy, but I felt convicted that we should be doing more. We had a bit of a turnover at semester break with two girls leaving, but adding two back in. Time to test the waters a bit more by changing up the mix. We felt convicted to continue to build relationships, and speak Truth when we could. But, we felt limited in the opportunities of actually making a difference in the lives of these young people in our care for only an hour a week. I especially felt disjointed as my paths did not cross with most of the high schoolers, short of supporting them in their extra-curricular activities. The Enemy knew how to make me feel inadequate, tell me how nothing was making a difference, and whisper to me that we weren’t seeing any seeds being sown.
But, week after week, we would continue to pray for a single opportunity, something that we could grasp hold of and run with.
The Enemy knows how to prey on my weaknesses, so I need to be
equally as diligent
to pray to the One who gives me the strength.
But, that’s not always easy to do. It’s not easy to admit you need help, you don’t have it all together, or that you have to lean on someone else.
But, it seems to me, the more we lean into Christ, the straighter we stand, because the burdens have been lifted off our shoulders.
We participated in an uplifting Easter assembly, complete with Brad reading from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Now, here we are a couple weeks later and all of the DNA leaders receive an email from Ron, the secondary chaplain. Upon opening it, I give it a cursory glance as I note its length, but by Wednesday morning, while Ashley and I are still struggling to land on an activity for our group for later that day. I read the email thoroughly and find great talking points correlating back to the Easter Assembly. Further convicted by the Holy Spirit, I know that today we HAVE to talk specifically about the Resurrection of Christ. With further advisement from my insightful husband, we land on a decision for the afternoon that includes showing the movie clip of Aslan’s death and resurrection. We prayed that eyes and hearts would be opened to the Truth of Jesus.
As much as I’d like to say the discussion led to ten high schoolers on their knees at the end of the session, I do know with all certainty that God continues to work in and through those who are obedient to Him. At the end of the hour, which involved ten kids and two leaders engaged in discussion around a table, two students took the time to share how, at the beginning of the year, they didn’t want to talk, let alone care about the other people in the room that they weren’t already friends with. I sat back and watched the happy interactions and exchanges as they all, as a group, shared thoughts and ideas. I saw respect and trust as they listened to what Jesus had done for them and responded with questions and comments. When they all had left, Ashley and I looked at each other and realized that they were finally to the point where we could ask them for one on one meetings to be able to specifically speak to them individually about their personal relationship with Jesus.
Sometimes, you just have to keep showing up and God will meet you there.
It still is hard for me to realize that it is not the big revival moments – it’s the faithful in the day to day. We want to see fireworks, feel the earth shake, see the hand of God through lightening bolts and know, without a doubt, that we are making a difference in this world. We want to see our efforts being recognized, rewarded even. We want to KNOW that what we are doing is worthwhile.
What if God is simply asking you to be present and intentional in the day to day?
Present and intentional are hard when they don’t look glamorous. But, it is the foundation on which opportunities are built.
Present and intentional means investing in people, in relationships, in time, energy, and it means commitment.
It means doing the down and dirty stuff, working side by side, setting aside your own desires for others, giving of your self until you can’t give any more. It means hurting, feeling, crying, laughing, rejoicing, sharing deeply, from the depths of your soul. It means transparency, being real, feeling exhausted, but still moving forward.
That is what present and intentional look like…and there is nothing simple about it.
I give...but not always until it hurts.
I share…but not necessarily with transparency.
I am real…but with very few people.
I am present…but sometimes I have an electronic device in hand.
I am intentional..but often on my own terms.
What would this world look like if we were present and intentional, each and every day, with all of those we come in contact with? What if we showed the love of Jesus with words, thoughts, feelings, and actions with everyone we met?
Would life look different than it does now? Would you look back at the end of the day and see that there are no small things? That God can take any opportunity put in front of us and use it for his glory and kingdom expansion?
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see
the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)
There will be no harvest if there are not workers faithfully planting on a day to day basis.
Lord, make me ever mindful of the importance to be present and intentional…here and now.
Praying this for myself and for all of you –