Walking out my front door a few days ago, I noticed an overcast sky with heavy fog, which matched my spirits precisely. Iâ€™m usually tired and discouraged in the morning, unless Iâ€™ve had more than the usual amount of sleep. I viewed the day with cynical disfavor.
â€œHmmmph. I wonder what this day will bring,â€ I said to myself sarcastically.
Driving along toward the highway, I began to wake up. â€œGood morning, Lord,â€ I prayed reflexively. Then I thought about how much I didnâ€™t mean the word â€˜goodâ€™. But for God, every morning is good, and full of His new mercies. Even the worst day in all of history, the day that Jesus was crucified, is called â€˜Good Fridayâ€™.
I began to thank the Lord for creating this new day, and for loving me and adopting me into His family. I told Him that I was ready and willing to do whatever He wanted me to do on this day, and I wondered how God would answer that prayer.
As I drove, I noticed that a small section of the sky had turned a deep pink, the kind you generally find only in artificial flavorings and radioactive materials. The Cascade Mountains stood as cardboard cutouts, propped up against the sky, lit from behind by the rising sun. Admiring their beauty, I thanked God for his creation, which truly is glorious. Just then, I reached a point in the road where the fields on my right opened up, and Mt. Rainier suddenly loomed into sight, dwarfing the other mountains, wreathed in luminous pink cotton candy.
Not my actual view — I didn’t have my camera with me. But this is the same mountain.
Loving God is like that: just when your heart is full of joy and you think there is nothing He could do that is better than what He has already done, He shows you something that is ten times more glorious.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me to stand in for him in the AWANA program at our church. He had to be at work that evening, and needed a â€˜warm bodyâ€™ to take his place â€“ no particular skills needed. Since my body is nearly always warmer than room temperature, and there are many skills that I lack, I fit the bill perfectly.
I wasnâ€™t really looking forward to it. Iâ€™ve been somewhat soured by my lack of success in the year I spent working with the fifth and sixth grade youth program at our church. But I couldnâ€™t really say â€œNoâ€ to my friend, and the need seemed real, so I showed up at the appointed time, with no expectations of experiencing God’s glory at all. My duties were minimal, and mostly involved standing around, observing a smoothly-running program. â€œThis isnâ€™t so bad,â€ I congratulated myself.
Toward the end of the evening, the kids assembled in larger groups for â€˜council timeâ€™, where a selected leader taught them a lesson from the Bible. I wandered between two of the groups, listening in and generally looming (in case of behavioral issues).
One of the teachers had prepared a lesson that culminated in a presentation of the Gospel, using the â€˜wordless bookâ€™ (a book with solid-colored pages, each color symbolizing a key part of the Gospel message). I returned to that classroom just as the teacher was concluding her message, and was startled into full wakefulness when she said:
â€œIf any of you have never prayed to accept Godâ€™s gift of Salvation, and would like to, go stand next to Mr. Tim.â€
I tried to look worthy of this honor as the first- and second-grade children looked at me dubiously. To my surprise, several stood up and walked over. Then a few more. By the time the teacher collected her things and handed off control to another leader, there were eleven kids standing around me.
We brought the kids into another classroom and their teacher asked them to repeat and explain the gospel message they had just heard. She asked them to articulate the reason for the decision they were making. Then she had them follow her in a prayer, asking Jesus to come into their hearts, to be their Lord and Savior. The kids prayed along dutifully, some cognizant of the momentous decision, others just there for the novelty of the experience.
As for me, I went home very thoughtful, and privileged to have been there when God acted to reveal His glory.