God is always surprising me as a parent! He shows up and moves in my kids hearts when I least expect it.
Case in point… last weekend my three kids (17-19-20 years of age) were hanging out at home, electronically tethered to their mobile devices. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and I offered take them to the park to join our churches youth group for an evening of Ultimate Frisbee and snacks. They talked and did the “well If you go, I’ll go too… I guess” back-and-forth eye-rolling discussion. In the end, all three jumped into my SUV as we picked up another teen friend and some Taco Bell along the way. I was not expecting much.
When we arrived, we found the park deserted. It appeared we were the only ones there. Inwardly I fizzled…”Great. I finally get them to come to a youth night and it ends being them and dad with a dozen taco’s at an abandoned park”…’
We nosed around the pavilion and found a discarded blue Frisbee, so we started throwing the thing around and soon we were laughing and chatting it up. Caleb started running around – ended up goofing off and fell off a tire swing while snap-chatting with a friend. Then two other rather young kids (12 year olds) showed up with our youth pastor and I was now “officially” sure this rag-tag bunch was about to become another disaster statistic of a failed youth ‘night”.
We awkwardly talked and munched our fast-food border meal a bit, then decided to try to throw the Frisbee with everyone. If you’ve been keeping track, we now had eight total people to hope to play ultimate Frisbee.
That’s “just barely” enough.
Five minutes of explaining the rules of how to play, and we were “off” and literally “running”. It was a bit of a stretch to think we were actually going to make this night work out, I mean given the circumstances that’s a bit overly optimistic.
But something really weird happened, this little band of rag-tag teens and pre-teens started to get really involved. Against the odds and cultural norms of total apathy and social passivity, they began to work as 2 teams, encouraging one another and running with all they had to make the next “play” happen.
Before I knew it we had played for an hour. Exhausted and sweaty we took a break. Pastor Shane pulled out a small devotional from “Not a Fan” , (a great book by Kyle Idleman) and shared a short discussion question as we wheezed to breathe.
They again surprised me as each of them took turns responding to the questions with authentic interest on the subject. Attentively listening as they lingered over the ideas and contributed to the overall conversation with insightful questions and engaging observations. Gone were the one-syllable – one word answers so common to youth group culture… replaced by an open, vulnerable and frank group discussion as they honestly shared personal feelings and fears.
I almost fell off my picnic bench.
Right in front of my eyes God was moving in this group of oddly matched 7 grade kids and early college aged, young adults. They were being drawn together by something I couldn’t see or understand. This had to be the “Holy Spirit” moving in and around our little Frisbee band of misfits and working to draw them into a closer relationship with each other and their faith.
Something beautiful and oh so un-expected.
It reminded me of how pointless it is for me to “predict” or “plan” for moments with my kids to experience God. Instead, its in the little things we do and the small steps of faith we take that God seems to relish showing up to exceed our expectations… and always at the oddest of times.
This summer dear parents, be careful to watch for and respond to the small nudges of God’s spirit. It may be a routine event – or a sudden inspiration to go and do things with your gang that may seem very insignificant on the surface. It’s in those acts of faith we may find some great and defining moments for our kids lives, we don’t want to miss them.
Peace out, Pastor B.