Sunday, October 17, 2010

Big God, Small Stuff

I love hearing other people's God stories, especially those where God moves in unexpectedly, shakes things up, then pulls everyone safely out the other side with completely changed lives.

I can name a few occasions in my own life where that has happened, but those incidents are few and far between. After all, it might not be a good sign if God has to jump in and change our lives on a daily basis.  But when I hear a lot of amazing Big God Stories I start feeling a little left out and I wonder where he has been in my own life.

Did God unfriend me? Has he forgotten about me? Did he get bored with me? Should I do the rebellious child thing and be bad just to get his attention?

I will often convince myself that I've been demoted from Child of God to Not-Worth-My-Time-And-Attention Acquaintance of God. I forget that our really big God is not just interested in our really big problems. He's all about our small stuff too. When I get so focused on looking for Him in those big, life-changing moments, I forget to even notice all the amazing little things he does for me on a daily basis. God doesn't just show up on a "need God here" occasion, he's always here. Are you paying attention?

I'll give you an example. This year we're planning another big Halloween party/neighborhood outreach thing at my house. We get a lot of trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood and many of them are inner city kids who don't have a safe neighborhood for trick-or-treating.

Deviating from our past Wizard of Oz theme, this year we are doing Alice in Wonderland. I had managed to convince myself that it wouldn't be as much work as Oz. I often lie to myself like this and I am just gullible enough to believe my own lies. I thought maybe we could set up a table like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and I could make some giant mushrooms out of chicken wire. Easy peasy.

Sounds fun, right? It always does to me too, until about the first part of October. That's when all those fun ideas break down into a lot of work and I begin to wish I'd never even started it.

About a week ago the regret set in and I wondered if there was any way I could back out of it that didn't require a hospital stay. Then I made a mental note to never, ever try to do this again. I filed it next to an identical mental note that I made this time last year.

I was just about ready to start praying for a kidney stone when Dennis told me that I needed to get in touch with Jamie Knight because he was about to participate in a fundraiser where local realtors made gumbo and set up booths with different themes and there was an Alice in Wonderland booth at this fundraiser. I made a mental note to actually attend the fundraiser...then forgot.  Obviously my mental note system needs work.

Fortunately the day after, Jamie contacted me and said that the people who had the Alice booth were going to toss out all their decorations but he saved them after learning about our Halloween theme. He described them as large cardboard cut-outs, the kind that might be used at a prom.

I thought to myself, "Score!!!" This was just what I needed! I wasn't sure what the props would look like but even repainting them would be easier than creating from scratch.  This rejuvenated my enthusiasm for our project and I began to think that maybe things would work out after all.  In my mind, these cardboard cutouts were obviously a gift from God, one meant to tell me not to give up.

A couple of the cutouts formed a heart-shaped arch and were much too tall to fit in the back of my Durango, so Tammi Reynaud offered to pick them up and bring them to my house in her pickup.  We went together to the house where they were temporarily stored and brought them back to my house.

While we were chatting in the truck, I was telling Tammi about our plans and how the cutouts would work perfectly and sure would save me a lot of time and effort as far as creating our theme.  With the decorating part pretty much taken care of, I told her that the only thing I was still concerned about was what kind of Jesus we would be handing out.  I wanted something that would go with our Wonderland theme but it has to make sense.  I didn't want to just make a little card and stick a white rabbit on it and call it done.  That matches the theme but it doesn't make sense.  What does the white rabbit have to do with salvation?

Then Tammi said the most beautiful words I'd heard in days, "what if you use the king of hearts and say something about how Jesus is the King of our hearts?" OH MY GOSH!  That's perfect!!!  I never would have thought of that on my own and I (stupidly) wasn't even asking for Tammi's help, I was really sort of mentally complaining out loud.

I am convinced that in that moment, Tammi was a vessel for the Holy Spirit who used her creativity to provide me with the perfect solution to my problem.  I was SO pumped!!  And I also realized that I was pretty much locked into this deal since it appears that for whatever reason, God wants it to happen.

Pretty cool, right?  Well, that's not all.  Tammi and I were fleshing out how the King of hearts idea could work and we both thought it would be really neat to use actual playing cards.  Then I was blinded by this vivid mental image of a box of flea market goodies that my sister had mailed to me a few weeks ago.  Inside the box was a ziploc baggie full guessed it...about 6 decks of playing cards.  Several hundred kids come through our neighborhood on Halloween night so it might take all 6 decks.

Now, I can over spiritualize just about anything.  When I get a good space in a crowded parking lot I am sure that space was God ordained just for me.  I feel sure he arranges budget-friendly sales just for me such as when my deodorant is buy-1-get-1-free.  But this?  This just can't be ignored.

Let's recap: 
  1. The Green family plans a little neighborhood outreach event.  
  2. Right after I lose my passion for it, Dennis and Jamie have lunch.  Jamie tells Dennis about the Alice in Wonderland booth at his fundraiser and Dennis tells Jamie about the Alice in Wonderland Halloween party at my house.
  3. Jamie saves the Alice decorations from their dumpster destiny and offers to let us use them.
  4. Tammi steps in and offers the use of her pickup to move the decorations.
  5. In the process of decoration moving, Tammi comes up with a perfect idea for how to present the gospel to our trick-or-treaters.
  6. Shamayn, my sister, unknowingly sent me the cards I would need to make our gospel idea happen.
  7. Which brings us to Kevin Bacon.
I just can't write that off as coincidence...not when so many different people have solved problems that they didn't even know existed! 

I believe this is a perfect example of God working in the little, almost insignificant details of my life.  I can't even write this off as an answer to prayer.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I didn't pray for any of this.  In the beginning I prayed for an idea and I told God that if I got a good idea from him I would take that as my cue that he wanted this to happen.  The idea came so we proceeded but I didn't pray about it after that.

I am so thankful that (at least this time) I was paying enough attention to see all the work that God was doing in this tiny little part of my life.  He didn't unfriend me!  He's still my BFF!

Sure God can step in and save me when tragedy strikes and my life starts a downward spiral.  He's God, he's supposed to work big miracles like that.  But he made sure that my sister sent me the playing cards I would need for the idea that Tammi gave me to use at the event that Jamie and Dennis revitalized. Seeing how God works in the little stuff of my life makes me realize just how much he loves me. 

Now I can relax and look forward to our Halloween ministry event with a lot less stress and anxiety.  I still can't believe how easily Tammi came up with her idea after I'd spent days chewing on it and coming up with nothing.  I know I would never have come up with the King of hearts angle.  All I could think of was the little bottles that said "eat me" or "drink me" and what good was that?!

Little bottles.  Life giving water.  From the King of our hearts.  I have about 500 little bottles that I bought several months ago for a reason that I could not name.

Oh yeah.  God IS my BFF!

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