August 22, 2013

God at Work through Life Groups

In the college and career life group for young women, leader Bethany Masquelier says that one of the things they regularly talk about is the importance of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit in the small things. "In being obedient to what seems to be small promptings, God will take us where He wants us to go without us being concerned about where that might be.

Recently, one of the young women in Bethany's group experienced exactly what they'd been talking about. Normally shy and not one to naturally approach strangers and start a conversation, she looked out her window and saw a worker in the scorching Florida summer heat. The thought came to her, “I bet he could use some water.” As she wrestled with the idea of actually taking him some water, she got a water bottle out of the cupboard and filled it. Still unsure about how it was going to work, she wondered, “What would I say? How would I approach him?” Finally, she decided to just take the water with her and go out outside to get the mail. As she approached the man, he spoke up and let her know that it was very hot outside. He wanted to know where he might find some water. Lucky for him, she had his water right there in her hands.

As Bethany said, "It's amazing how God knows how far we can go. He meets us where we are stuck and helps to execute His ultimate plan. We do our best and He does the rest."

That young woman says this about being in a life group: "Being in a small group has been beneficial in my life because it is part of the team of people I have that helps grow me in my faith and knowledge of Christ. They help me take stories I have read many times and breathe new life into them, as well as open my eyes to the relevance of stories I may have thought to be irrelevant to life today. We get to learn and grow together and get excited about God together!"

God at Work through Friendship: To Gather Up a Family That Had Strayed Away

A few Sundays ago you sat next to me in church and invited Chris and me to come on Monday nights. Chris and I are soooooo thankful for that,” Sandy writes to her new friend. “Because you took the time to reach out to us, God began changing our desire for HIM... and gave us a hunger for Jesus again.

That Sunday, Sandy and Chris Smith admit they were both struggling in a life without Christ. It wasn’t that they didn’t know Jesus. They had allowed the busy-ness of his job to keep them away from other believers for years, eventually leading them down a path of separation from God and each other. But God pursued them and began healing their hearts and home through some unexpected circumstances.

Just before Mother’s Day, Chris was let go from his job. He’d been working at least 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, managing the construction of multiple high-end homes that sometimes ended up quite a distance from each other. He would come home each day totally exhausted, leaving before dawn and often returning late at night. Sometimes he’d choose to just to go to bed rather than eat, so he could begin it all again the next morning.

The company had provided Chris with a great truck, iPhone, iPad, and laptop, but that fateful morning in May, and through no fault of his, they suddenly took it all away. His employment was simply over. He actually had to ask somebody to take him home! And so began months of uncertainty.

Sandy recalls, “At first, I felt just terrible for Chris and felt the demoralization that he might have felt.” But as the days and then months went by with no work and their savings quickly dwindling, she admits, “I became frightened, angry, and very restless with our relationship.

Chris’s previous work schedule was so rigorous that church had fallen by the wayside years ago. With their new circumstances, they had plenty of time for church and a renewed sense of priority. Having visited Riverside Church the summer before, they remembered the friendly people, relatable sermon, and awesome music. Even their son had enjoyed his experience at Riverside. Chris and Sandy decided it was time to return.

That's where you come in,” Sandy continues in her letter to her friend, “.....inviting us to your home.... taking that time to offer us an experience which has led us back to Christ! We strayed away, and then we felt ‘gathered up’ again to follow Jesus. I believe the angels were joyful and singing praises to our Father knowing what was about to happen!!

A few months have passed now and Sandy says she has never seen Chris more open with his feelings. Thanking her friend, she writes, “He is taking time with Jesus, and it is awesome to experience this alongside of him. He says it is because of the comfort level that he feels in Riverside Church and belonging to Monday night gatherings at your home. What an awesome group of Christian people! We are truly blessed!!!... Always know how you have succeeded listening to your heart and following HIS direction in [our] lives.

As Chris and Sandy draw closer to the Lord, they are drawing closer to each other, too. God has provided Chris with a new job now, but they are not allowing it to keep them away this time. Praise God for pursuing His children and gathering up this precious family that had strayed for a very long season. Praise God for allowing Riverside Church to be a part of His plan for the Smith family.