I have just completed my 30th year in the AWANA program. AWANA is a children’s ministry that teaches the truths of God’s word in a kid friendly environment. They play games, do fun activities, and learn scripture when their minds are like sponges and they can soak up what God has to teach them.
Many nights I would come flying through the door from work with only enough time to change my clothes and head up to the church. One evening I dragged myself to church still in my work clothes, late, hungry, and grumpy. I thought “I just can’t do this anymore; this will be my last year.” There is however, one sentence that speaks louder than a growling stomach and a sentence that is decibels above a grumpy attitude. It is “Cyndi, I want to ask Jesus into my heart. Will you help me pray?” That sentence puts things quickly into perspective and is one of the most humbling moments of your life. Many of the worthwhile things that I have learned in life I learned at AWANA from grade school kids. Seriously, come on out and help us out on Wednesday nights. You WILL go home much wiser!
One particularly trying night the kids were antsy and wild. I was the game leader at that time and struggled to maintain control of game time. As I tried to explain the instructions, I could not be heard above their chatter so I just sat down in the middle of the gymnasium and crossed my legs and waited. Slowly, one by one, the kids noticed their leader sitting in the middle of the floor and the room grew silent. They hung their heads. Suddenly one little boy bolted from his team line, jumped into my lap and put his hands on each side of my face. He looked earnestly at me and said “Cyndi, I’ll be good now!” A moment later I was at the bottom of a pile of 20 clubbers with a chorus of “I’ll be good.” Their promises turned into hysterical giggling and I melted into a puddle. I knew they would struggle with their promise but it did not matter, I still loved them.
I can relate. As hard as I try, I can’t be good. I can muster a day or two where I think I’ve done quite well but then an attitude creeps in or I snap at someone and once again I am ashamed of my actions. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 NLT (I think God knew we humans might have trouble with this because He put a verse in Romans just for me).
I find myself kneeling before my Father saying “I’m sorry, I’ll be good.” Imagine your heavenly Father scooping you onto His lap and holding you and saying “it’s okay, I took that to the cross.” I am secure in the knowledge that my Father loves me anyway not because of what I do but only because of who HE is.
For the record, those children are now grown into well adjusted adults, many with children of their own. Some of those children now come to AWANA. Occasionally I look into the face of one of those little ones and remember their Moms and Dads. It has been a good 30 years.
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NLT AWANA theme verse.
By Cyndi den Otter (C)
April 22, 2012
Copyright 2012 April 22 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
I am not afraid of heights. I climbed Mount Katahdin many times and did not feel afraid on the Knife Edge which is a narrow path across the steep edges of the mountain that connects two peaks. Did I mention that it is a sheer drop on both sides and especially fun with the wind blowing? My husband chose to announce to our climbing party that he was afraid of heights half way across the knife edge – nice to know this Jeff! On the other end of the Knife Edge is another scary spot called The Notch. My husband was white faced as we inched around a tiny curved ledge that barely had room for our feet. “Don’t look down and don’t look back. Just keep looking straight ahead!”
Heights don’t faze me so I was not hesitant to get on a gondola in Dominica to view the rain forest canopy from above. Jeff and I settled into a gondola with our friends in the next car. The views were breath taking and we snapped pictures by the dozens. I was looking forward to walking across the suspension bridge when we got to the top, that is, until we passed over a deep gorge and they stopped the gondola and I actually caught sight of the bridge! It looked like it was suspended in outer space as we just swung there … over the gorge … I wanted OFF! Had we not been suspended in midair halfway between Jupiter and Mars, I would have gotten off. I glanced at Jeff. He looked very relaxed, just enjoying the view and taking photos. What is wrong with this picture!? I am not the one scared of heights!
Plan: Get off at top and go back down with seniors with canes in next car and skip suspension bridge.
Problem with plan: Seniors went skipping down trail twirling canes leaving me the only one to go back down alone. Traitors!
“Are you scared” Jeff asked, finally noticing that I was white as a sheet. “No, of course not” I lied as I started down the path on my jelly legs. Everyone was cheerful and chattering. Did they not notice that we were going on a teensy weensy swinging bridge that was over a gorge a bazillion feet deep?! What was wrong with these people?! I had no choice; I just have to do this afraid! Jeff said, “it’s okay, just don’t look down and don’t look back.” Smart Alec. Once I stepped out on the bridge and took those first few wobbly steps, I was okay. I was not perfectly comfortable but I was okay. I kept my eyes straight ahead.
I have had to do many things afraid, sometimes with wobbly jelly legs. I am so glad that I did because I would have missed out on so many wonderful things in my life if I had decided to just stay in my comfort zone. I was afraid when it came time to give birth to my four children, start new jobs, and yes, suspension bridges in the Caribbean rain forest. My husband and have been called to use our gifts in ministering in the area of marriages and families. Often that requires us to speak in front of large crowds. At first I was afraid before I got on stage but once my feet step on the platform, the fear vanishes. I am glad I obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit. What blessings I would have missed! God knew that we would have many times in our lives when we would be afraid. That is why the scripture is full of verses about fear. He wants us to hear His very own kind reassuring words that He is with us and that He understands. For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13 NIV
What is it that you have to do afraid?
Do you face unemployment or a job change?
Do you have a medical diagnosis that leaves more questions than answers?
Maybe you wonder what university to attend or what courses to take?
Do you have a huge dream in your life that takes more courage than you think you can muster?
What is that next huge obstacle in your life right now that you are afraid to tackle?
Did God give you a mission that is a bit out of your comfort zone, or maybe just outright terrifying to you?
Do it afraid. God is with you. He promises. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Expect His comfort and guidance, and when you make that decision, don’t look down and don’t look back. Keep your eyes straight ahead and on Him. When you take those first steps on that wobbly bridge, you can expect that God will walk it with you, ALL the way to the other side. You won’t be disappointed! So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 NIV
By Cyndi den Otter (C)
Copyright 2012 April 9 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission
“Do It Afraid” is a Joyce Meyer quote which I love because it so accurately depicts so many seasons in my life.