To Walk and Not Faint
I love the good days at the Club (our after school program). I love when kids get along with each other, when I see them understand their homework, and when I see the evidences of them becoming more confident leaders. I love the spiritual thrills that come from the high moments, like getting great feedback from children and parents.
But earlier this week, we had a pretty horrible day. It’s not the first of those, and it won’t be the last. But these rough days make me question what we are doing and if it’s really possible to have a long-term impact.
The Rough Day
Mondays tend to be hard days anyway. It’s hard for kids (and adults) to get back into the routine. And over the weekend, I think the kids forget our expectations, like when they crawl under the snack tables, hit each other, and run through the building.
We had one young boy who hit three other kids. Two were justified in his eyes (“they were bothering me”), but at least once he “didn’t know” why he punched a girl in the stomach.
Another group of 4 kids from the same class at school had a particular homework assignment. Only 1 was really trying to get it done. The others repeatedly whined, “I don’t know how to do this!” But when we tried to explain how they needed to look up their science definitions, the other 3 put up mental and emotional walls. (And it didn’t help that another girl was walking around to the kids telling them the answers.)
The worst was a group of older kids, who we try to look to as leaders. A couple were being conniving and disrespectful to a volunteer. Others were trying to stop them, but did it in the wrong way, such as by using profanity. (And how foolish of them to write down those words!) But, as I explained to one of them, the big issue wasn’t even the profanity; it was that they were being pressured to be and do things that was opposite of how God created them.
I drove home in near tears, wondering what we can do, wondering if we can help these kids, and wondering if my kids would fall to the same temptations and struggles.
Soar, Run, Walk
The next morning in my devotional time, I read from My Utmost for His Highest, a selection that included Isaiah 40:31.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Soaring is fun. Running is hard work, but you see progress. But for the long-term, we need to endure in mere walking. God reminded me that while the soaring (the spiritual thrills) are nice blessings, that most of my life in Him will be composed of walking with patience and consistency. Discipleship is a long-term process.
Then I came across this article from The Resurgence, 4 Ways to Pray the Gospel Over Your Life. God reminded me that there is hope in the gospel. I need to daily remember these truths:
- God’s love for me is complete and perfect.
- God’s presence and approval are all I need.
- I will show others that same grace that I have received.
- I will view the world through the lens of the love of the Cross and the power of the Resurrection.
In these truths is where I find meaning, not in whether we have “good” or “bad” days at the Club.
A Word of Encouragement
And if I needed any more encouragement, outside of God’s word, then God provided more, too. Just a week ago, I received a short message from a teenager who spent this past summer down here in Allendale, including hanging out with us a good bit. This is what he told me,
Hey i was just thinking about you guys an how yall changed my life. You have changed how i look at life an how i should treat people.
That was it, but that was all that I needed from him.
And that’s all I needed from God — 3 great reminders:
- I need to walk in patience and consistency.
- I need to preach the gospel to myself daily.
- I need to remember that this is not about us. It’s about seeing life change in others.
- What’s Our Ultimate Purpose in Allendale?
- The Struggles of Some Boys – Part 1 (Education) & Part 2 (Emotional Self-Control)
- You Are Not Alone
- Encouraging Reminders
- Attacking Poverty Through Relief, Rehabilitation, and Development
**image courtesy of Moosealope via flickr