Saturday, 21 August 2010

Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Jesus

When I scanned through the last post, my eyes focused on the line "play games, sing songs and do crafts," which made me think of Mary Poppins. I guess I've been a lot like Mary Poppins this week, in fact, with my humungous handbag filled with: a plastic sword that blows bubbles, a pink wig, and a cardboard parrot template, to name just a few. The week went so quickly, and I've learned so so much, and I think the kids have too!

It's really struck me (once again) that God always exceeds expectations (which makes me think of the grades that the Harry Potter characters get in their OWLs--geek alert!). But not only does he exceed expectations, but he exceeds them in ways that you wouldn't expect. I guess I'd assumed that God would exceed our expectations by bringing loads of kids along, but in fact (though the numbers were good), he exceeded them in the response that we got from the kids to our teaching, and to our bad jokes!

And God ALWAYS exceeds my expectations in terms of how well he provides for us; even down to the tiniest of details he's there. Whenever you're most flagging (cue semaphore jokes), that's when God refuels you with a load of fresh energy, and whenever you're feeling the most tired and brain-dead, that's when you'll have a really good conversation with a child about Jesus. I guess God does it to remind you that you're not working on your own strength, but on him. I suppose we're all inclined to forget this a lot, but it is when we feel that we can do things on our own that we stop doing them well.

This is not disheartening, in fact it is a great freedom. If we had to rely on our own strength we would be fallible, we would falter, and we would fail (I love alliteration!). But because we know that we cannot do a single thing on our own, we rely more fully on God. I certainly don't rely on God as much as I should or would like to, but it's a start. God has infinite resources of strength, which is freely available for us to tap into when we set aside our self-sufficiency.

I'm reminded, perhaps for the millionth time, of some teaching we had at our new leaders' training weekend, nearly 18 months ago when I first started a year on the committee for the Christian Union at my uni. We had a bunch of talks on 2 Corinthians, and one was particularly inspiring to all of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." The treasure referred to is knowledge of Jesus and salvation, which is the greatest thing we could have (see Philippians 3:8, and my previous blog post!), and it is in clay jars (us). Clay jars are fragile and show cracks, but because of this the light of God inside them shines all the more brightly because we can see that the glory is from the treasure, and not from the jars.

Aside from all this, I genuinely had a great week. The awful punchlines and cheesy songs will haunt me for some time, yes, but the friendships that grew and the huge amount that I learned (and hopefully that the kids learned) will last much longer. Although if I hear another fish-based joke, I think I might cry!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Can a tragedy nearly happen?

I'm pretty tired and that seems like a very morbid title, but this really isn't a morbid theme that I want to expand on , just a thoughtful one; if, indeed, it is a theme at all. This may be entirely incoherent. So I'm going to mark this as for my eyes only until tomorrow when I can re-read it.

Today was the first day of Holiday Club at my church at uni (as opposed to the church that I go to when I'm at home--that is, my parents' home). This is a morning activity club that we put on for kids in the area to come and play games, sing songs, do crafts, and most importantly, where they can learn about Jesus. I've been concentrating so much on what God's going to do with these kids that I forgot to think about what God is going to do with me. After any kind of mission I'm always amazed at how much I've learned, when I'd been thinking only of what I can teach others... which really is a very unhumble attitude. (Unhumble is not a word, but bare with me, I'm pretty exhaused, even though it's 10:45pm, not the early hours, even though this is my preferred bedtime--at the age of 20).

So, vague musings that I thought of today, probably unconnected with the Holiday Club, but maybe somewhat useful anyway.

1) Age REALLY isn't important, or anything to worry about at all. I was remembering at how freaked out I was at the prospect of turning 18 a few years ago, as I thought it meant I had to grow up. When, actually, nothing changed. Then I was really freaking out about turning 20 as I wouldn't be a teenager any more and would probably have to grow up and be boring, when actually this has been the most fun year of my life. And as my 21st birthday is only a few weeks away, I realised that turning 21 doesn't bother me, and I thought it probably should do, according to the pattern I've set myself. (I won't even go into what turning 13, 14 or 16 was like! I'll save that angst for another day!)
In a world where 5-year-olds get leukaemia, and 84-year-olds teach me to waltz age doesn't really matter at all.

2) A fair few tragedies have almost happened in my family recently, but life kind of continues anyway. And the tragedies haven't actually occurred like we all (and sometimes only I) assumed they would. Life isn't a film, we aren't oscar-winning actors, and sometimes stuff just doesn't happen. And sometimes it does and we react to it in a totally un-cool way. And sometimes nothing happens and we still react to it in an un-cool way. And the reason we get angry with those we love the most is because we know they love us back. (This is pretty much a direct quote from a film that I just watched with my housemates.) This is cheesy and awful, and kind of on the same awful track as those films that I love and they hate, but maybe that's OK.

3) There's more. There's so much more, and I guess there always will be. I don't think this is even a thing I've learned, but just an observation. I could say more here, but I need my beauty sleep. And I can't wait to see what God is going to teach ME tomorrow!

Just to close, this is our memory verse for the week. The kids have ASTOUNDED me by memorising it already, and I want to put it here (if I can remember it! It'll be shameful if I have to turn to my Bible to look it up!). It is so challenging to me as a 20-year-old, and I expect will be challenging to me as a 25-year-old, 40-year-old, 60-year-old, 80-year-old, and will reach its full glory when I do!

"Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as rubbish. All I want is Christ."

(I had to look it up--my memory isn't what it used to be!)