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!