It was beginning to feel like the Pacific Northwest last week — consistent rain, lots of gray, with hardly any sunshine breaking through. (Don’t worry, I won’t make it a habit to keep posting about the untimely rainfall around here.) Not that there’s anything terribly wrong with copious and consistent rain, unless your church has been planning an outdoor Vacation Bible School (VBS) on a lawn in a nearby neighborhood for the next four days. Our VBS staff had been praying earnestly for a change in the weather or for God to open up an alternative indoor venue for us to host our event. By Monday afternoon, the prospects didn’t seem very hopeful.
4pm, Monday — Just two hours before registration for VBS. Clouds hid the sun, thunder rumbled, and rain began to pour. We hadn’t received any callbacks from the organizations we had inquired about using their indoor facilities. While I was disheartened and preparing myself to cancel the event, my wife Debbie grabbed the car keys and drove out to a preschool just across the street from the lawn we planned to host our VBS.
5pm, Monday — I was supposed to be preparing dinner for the kids, so we could leave for VBS on time, but because I had concluded the event would have to be cancelled, I just slowed down, called the kids over to the living room, and we knelt in prayer together. It was more of a prayer of submission to be ok with canceling than it was a prayer of petition for God to provide a solution.
5:07pm, Monday — The garage door began to open while I was still kneeling with the kiddos on our living room rug. Debbie is back home. But before she even comes in the house, my phone rings, and one of our VBS volunteers is asking what the address is for our indoor site! Apparently, God led Debbie to connect with just the right person who had just the right spirit to help us in our last minute need. And a lot of texts and calls had already been going out by the time I got the full story.
In the end, the Montessori Preschool just across the road from our original location allowed us to use their facility for the rest of the week! We had a blast, worked hard, met new faces, and were able to bless 20 or so kids with spiritual seeds that we hope can bear fruit for eternity. Although it may not have been the my ideal script for that outreach effort, there’s not a shadow of doubt in my mind that God was leading.
All the good that came out of it the VBS was completely His doing and not our own, and I’m convinced of that because of, not in spite of, those not-so-ideal circumstances.
There’s something about difficult dynamics that make us realize the limit of our power and control, and it reminds me of this simple reality:
…Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. E.G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, 145
I wish it were easier to trust this in the moment of those extremities, but it’s something that we must let God educate our hearts and minds to lean into. As I’ve been reading through Israel’s wilderness wanderings over the last few weeks, I realize that that trusting attitude is something that grows over time and experience…over lots of time and experience.
What are the crises, struggles, adversities you’re facing? More than just an appeal to positive thinking, I urge you to make prayer your default posture in the midst of extremities. Give yourself time to be still and know God (cf. Ps. 46:10) as the One who will fight for you (cf. Ex. 14:13-14). Seek God’s perspective on the situation. Pray for discernment to see your extremities as God’s opportunities to be glorified even more, to give you fresh evidence of His great faithfulness in the midst of your difficult circumstances.