March 9, 2018
"‘But Lord,' Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel?' ... The LORD said to him, ‘I will be with you.'" Judges 6:15a, 16a (NLT)
Laughter. And faith?
It didn't take long for me to realize these silly teens each took their spiritual life seriously. And they did so in a winsome, attractive way. Very quickly, I was hooked.
During my junior year of high school, I began attending a different church youth group where I saw fun-loving, authentic believers thriving in their faith.
Not only were the students upbeat and hilarious, the leaders took me under their wings and inspired my leadership potential.
One leader, Lenny, was influential in helping me catch a grander vision for my life. A little rough around the edges, Lenny had seen God do the extraordinary, using just the ordinary. He poured his soul into reaching those far from God and building young leaders within the church.
During this time, I began reconnecting with God like never before. I started reading my Bible daily and seeing it with fresh eyes through bite-sized chunks of Scripture.
I also began to pray earnest prayers each night (not just at mealtimes, or right before I took a test!) ... realizing my prayer time was actually a conversation with God Himself. Not only could I talk, I could even listen to His direction.
That winter, my new friends convinced me to try attending a summer youth conference in Denver. But there was a major hurdle to climb: funding. Money was tight at home, and since we were so late into the school year, I'd already missed every fundraiser. Without the financial pieces to the puzzle, there was no way I'd be going.
Then the unexpected happened. Lenny called me to say my conference costs were paid in full by an anonymous donor. I was cleared to go to Denver.
Or so I thought.
I soon realized there was another hurdle: my schedule. I'd made a previous commitment to my high school's summer competitive marching band.
Although I sensed God was providing for me, my mind was filled with doubts as I didn't see any way possible for my director to allow an upperclassman section leader to miss the final week of competitions. Ultimately, the situation brought me to my knees. One fateful day, I crouched low in my bathroom and cried out to God.
O Lord, this is out of my hands. I do believe I'm supposed to go, but how will I ever get there? What if my director says no, and won't grant me permission? If You really want me to do this, Lord, then You'll have to provide the way. Will You help me figure out how I can go?
After a great deal of anxious tears, the Lord guided me with the courage to call my director. To my amazement, he said it sounded like an excellent opportunity and granted me permission.
I never imagined God would take a ragamuffin youth group leader to encourage me in profound ways ... or that He'd mysteriously help secure funding for my trip. And to be perfectly honest, I highly doubted He'd answer my prayers for help after I knelt to pray on a bathroom floor.
But there's a story captured in the book of Judges which reminds me I'm not the only one who's questioned God's ability. Even the mighty warrior Gideon asked how God might accomplish something: "‘But Lord,' Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel?' ... The LORD said to him, ‘I will be with you" (Judges 6:15a, 16a).
Maybe you've had doubts about God's ability to provide enough time and money for something, too. While I can't exactly compare attending a national youth conference to rescuing an entire nation, despite my doubts, God was with me. And He'll do the same for you.
That Denver conference was the culmination of me gradually re-kindling my spiritual fire and firmly committing my life to follow Jesus. I was encouraged to grow spiritually - and forever changed as a result. Though I still have plenty of spiritual growing-up to do, it was a turning point in the right direction, because God used Lenny and friends to make it happen.
Ultimately, the Lord set into motion a renewed faith, and helped instill a lifelong belief that since God knows the plan, He'll make the path known. When God gives the directive, He'll grant the direction. (Even if I don't have a clue how He'll work out the details!)
Father God, thank You for providing in ways I can't possibly understand. Forgive me for my doubts, and help me fully trust that You always know what You're doing. Thanks for allowing me to play a small part in Your grand plans. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 9:8, "And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others." (NLT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When have you seen God move in a mighty way to accomplish His plans in your life? How does that memory encourage you today?
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© 2018 by Stephanie Raquel. All rights reserved.