by Alyssa Tennison
Two meaningful phrases have come to me through various conversations and encounters with people at COTC, and they have stuck. Not only had I been ruminating over them for many months, but I experienced the two of them coming to fruition together during the week of KidsCAN (June 23-27). Although my role as a prayer coordinator for KidsCAN was, in many ways, behind the scenes, God met me by allowing me to experience these key phrases in very tangible ways that I’d like to share.
So what are these phrases? The first one is printed right in our Value Statement on our bulletin, and you’ve probably heard it many times (and rightly so, I might add). It is the value of the blessing of children.
As many of you know, there is an entire group of over 30 adults who pray over the children of our church body by name on a regular, committed basis. This past year marked our first year praying through the theme of blessing. Because of that intentional focus, a heightened awareness of blessing already existed among many, and could clearly be recognized in countless acts of love towards the treatment of our children within our church body. A starting point could be the way we honor children during our service, and that honor trickles all the way down to the thoughtfully selected books and snacks in the nursery.
In addition to the clearly stated value of the blessing of children, there is a second phrase that has been sitting with me as a result of conversations with some of you. It might strike you as simple, and it is. Yet, in its simplicity, it is especially fitting, because we know that child-like thinking holds keys to the kingdom. So I offer up this phrase which is in the form of a question: Where do you see God at work?
Because I had been challenged to ponder this question, my antennae were up and I noticed His presence in so many small, yet glorious ways.
I saw God at work in the group of adults who offered to pray, and though not required, some made special trips to leave their daily duties to drive to church so they could physically be there and pray out loud by name during the KidsCAN events. Prayers were offered not only for the children attending, but for the volunteers, the neighbors and all of the absent kids God longs to reach.
I saw God at work when, during my prayer time with a fellow church member, we heard the door burst open with rejoicing because a little girl had been presented the gospel and responded with a desire to follow Christ and receive rescuing grace in her life.
I saw God at work in Pastor Christian who, as the visionary and leader of our church, believed it was important to spend his entire week with the children. One can read about the value of the blessing of children every week in the bulletin, but to see his engaging actions and deep commitment to their growth spoke volumes. The leaders of our church, who were all involved in different ways, did not merely support KidsCAN verbally, but engaged generously and enthusiastically with their time.
I saw God at work in Liz Stewart and the Children’s Leadership Team, who planned and poured their hearts into making this week not only fun and special, but spiritually rich and impactful.
I saw God at work through the leaders’ primary prayer request: that there would be a joyful spirit present every day – and there was.
I saw God at work in the leaders who greeted the eager arrivers every morning with cheerful, bright smiles.
I saw God at work through the hands that thoughtfully prepared the delicious, nourishing snacks with creativity and care.
I saw God at work in the two volunteers who joyfully buddied with a special little boy who needed an adult with him. I saw God’s hand teaching the kids about this fearfully and wonderfully created child who looked and acted different from most of them, but grew their hearts just by a shared presence and frequent fist bumps.
I saw God at work in the high school students who could have chosen to earn money or give their brain a rest from all of their recently completed months of studies, but instead gave of their energy to children who jumped on their hips and clamored for attention.
I saw God at work in the children’s creativity, confidence, and skills as they presented to the audience on Friday.
I saw God at work in my own children, and children of friends, who came home every day delighted and begging to go back for more.
I saw God at work in the theme of rescue, and in the children’s glued eyes, as they listened to a fully equipped fire fighter share about rescuing those in danger.
Just a few days ago, I was still seeing God’s hand at work from KidsCAN. My oldest asked me if she had ever been rescued from something dangerous, so we talked about the way she fell in the lake once and someone had to help her when she couldn’t swim. We made the connection, together, about how Jesus has rescued her just like the time she was rescued in the water.
Finally, I saw God at work as I heard the volunteers lead the kids through the memory passage. Together they declared aloud God’s inspired words of joy-filling and rescue:
“May we be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled us to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transfigured us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, who set us free and forgave our sins.” Colossians 1:9-14
As I reflect on my experiences with KidsCAN, it seems that God is drawing a conclusion in my heart: where there are attitudes and acts of blessing for the littlest of these, there is also His hand present and working. The very heart of God is in the way He longs to pull all of us close and bless us as His children, filling us with His joy and rescuing us with His grace. In this, His very Spirit is present and moving in so many small ways that transcend into great when we see them.
So, I invite you to join me in sharing this mindset of blessing –receiving it from God’s face to yours and overflowing to others. I also invite you to join me on this exciting quest: Where do you see God at work? Notice it, because it is all around you! May the circular nature of blessing and God’s presence surround you in Christ Jesus.