Last weekend our church was supposed to take 100 middle school kids up to our Northern Arkansas camp retreat, Castle Bluff. That didn’t happen. Not even close. Because of roads like this, me and a few leaders found ourselves sitting in a Panera, 24 hours before camp, scrambling with pens and paper and prayer to still make this happen. It was madness. It was hectic. It was chaotic. But only to us. In fact, looking at everything now, I don’t think there was any chaos in any of it. I think God had a perfect order and timing in all of it. His glory was displayed mightily. Let me explain a bit.
When Castle Bluff was called off because of 26 inches of snow, people were disappointed. But God was not. I believe God was excited to see how his people were going to rally together to still make camp happen. Sitting here at my desk a few days removed, I’m excited just thinking about it.
Have you ever seen the church? Not just been to a church. Not just been a part of a church. Not just participated in something the church is a part of. But really seeing the church. In action. As the church. As God called them be. Living out Acts 2 in all of its beauty. And difficulty. And power.
Last weekend I was given the privilege of seeing the church. Even more, of being a part of it. 100+ students arrived here late Friday afternoon. Slowly but surely leaders began to arrive as well. 30+ leaders. And for 30+ hours we poured ourselves into these kids. Not at camp. Not in Northern Arkansas. But in North Little Rock. In our church. As the church.
Our church has this old Fellowship Hall that is outdated and beaten up and rarely used. We were ready to change that several months ago. We made plans. We made prayers. And we made God the center of it all. As best as we could. One Sunday we’d planned on making our entire offering go towards making a new Fellowship Hall. One that could be used to feed folks in our community. That could be used to reach out. That could serve a purpose.
Well before that Sunday could arrive, God reached out. We received an anonymous check that covered the remaining balance needed to get the project off the ground. I’m talking a big check. Large enough to make you want to find out who wrote it. Six figures.
We were ready to get our new space. We hired a contractor. Made a swift deadline. And sat back and waited patiently. And then not-so-patiently. Because we lacked some sort of original building permit. It couldn’t be located and nothing could be done about it. Days, weeks, many weeks. Time trickled on. And we wondered why.
Last weekend, our “why’s” were answered. Because a single hammer hadn’t been laid to that Fellowship Hall, we had a place to feed nearly 150 people here in our church. Because of God’s timing. Because God is good.
We were thrilled that one of our pastors had agreed to teach last weekend. Our focus would be on Love, Sex, and Dating…and all that God has to say about it. Harold was a perfect fit. He’d taught an abstinence class at the high school for years. He was a man of God. A man after God’s own heart. But we’re greedy. We also really wanted a woman.
We really wanted Alexis to have a chance to teach last weekend. She’d worked with Harold before. We heard she was good. We’d heard that God used this woman to really reach young boys and girls, to speak truth into their hearts. But being away for the weekend at Castle Bluff was too much of a time commitment for her to make last weekend. She had other engagements already. I erased her name on our office marker board. She wasn’t going to be a able to be there. So I thought.
But again, because of 26 inches of snow, God turned chaos into creation. Alexis was able to teach our middle schoolers last Saturday morning. A room full of them heard this 43-year-old woman share how she had still kept herself pure. She was still waiting. Patiently. Hopefully. Wholeheartedly. Expectantly.
We didn’t believe Alexis would be able to teach these kids. But God did.
There were moments like those all weekend long. Pieces we’d never imagined puzzling themselves together in ways we never would’ve worked out on our own. I imagined God sitting there, smiling, laughing. Proud. Providing.
Thru the church. By community. Within chaos.