Just say, “Girl Scout” and I would estimate the next word most of us would immediately think would be…..”cookie!” While Thin Mints would probably give the good old chocolate chip a run for its money in a “favorite American cookie” contest, it’s not just cookies that have me thinking about the young girls in uniform.
This is actually National Girl Scout Week, which was kicked off by Girl Scout Sunday on March 8th. The good people of our small congregation are dedicated to sharing our church facilities with many different groups who need a safe, accommodating meeting space, and Girl Scout / Brownie troops, in various forms, have been meeting on our grounds for many years. Once a year, on Girl Scout Sunday, the whole lot of them show up in uniform and fill the front pews with ponytails, smiles and lots of energy! And last Sunday was no exception – their excitement at being together, and with us, was contagious!
Now, some of you have heard my awesome pastor/husband speak, but most of you have not. To say he can get…..animated…..is putting it mildly. I can personally vouch for the hours of study, preparation, and prayer he pours into each weekly message, but then, having laid a solid Biblical foundation, he seeks to convey the truth of the day in fresh and compelling ways, many times seeming more storyteller than preacher. As anyone who has done any sort of public speaking will tell you, the audience (and response from) has loads to do with how engaging a speaker can feel, and thus become. (Did I mention there were pews of Girl Scouts in church last Sunday?!)
This brings me to the inspiration for tonight’s post. (I know my goal is to seek where I found God in this day, but after last night’s river of sorrow, I’m feeling a little emotionally “hung-over” and thought it best to seek an eddy to swirl around in for this evening!)
Tom, (the awesome pastor/husband), has been encouraging us to read through the book of John, a chapter a day, through the time of Lent (Actually it will be twice through John before the season is through.) The passage he chose to speak from for the day was taken from John 15. He mentioned that in the beginning of John, Jesus was asked by some who were to become his disciples, where he lived, asking, “where do you abide?” Jesus answered, “Come and see.” Then again in chapter 15, the word “abide” or “remain” appears again in several different illustrations Jesus used in teaching that day. Now Tom’s a very animated speaker, but even he could see the front pews beginning to fade interest and quickly realized they just didn’t really understand the concepts of what it was to “abide with the Father”, or “remain in His love”, so without missing a beat, he slid into camp counselor mode to speak directly to the girls so that they could understand. And that’s when the mouse came to church……
Awesome pastor/husband Tom asked the girls, “Do you know what it’s like to ‘abide’ somewhere?” He nodded as little heads shook, “no”, and he said to them, “I thought so.” Then he got down on one knee, cupped his two hands as though he were gently holding something very carefully, and voice, now just above a whisper, said, “It’s like if I had a tiny little mouse, just snuggled here inside my hands. The girl nearest to him instantly popped up to look inside his hands, then another….their curiosity at what “abide” looked like was surprising and very, very precious. (OK….so they probably wondered if he had somehow actually put a mouse in his hands, but nevertheless….) He said, “The kind of ‘abide’ Jesus meant was to just feel safe and happy sitting still with someone you love. If I asked this little mouse (and they were still looking in his hands!) where he likes to hang out, he would say, ‘Oh, I just like to abide here in Tom’s hands……’ ” (Insert “Awwwww….” ) “That’s how Jesus wants us to feel about spending time with him….that we know we’re safe, loved and held carefully in his hands, when we’re abiding in him….remaining where he is.”
It was a visual lesson that I don’t think they will soon forget, and I know I won’t either. It made me re-evaluate just how “safe, loved and held carefully” I really believe I have been. I’ve been asking questions of God I never thought I would need to ask, and He has never once made me feel petulant, ungrateful or faithless. On the contrary! I believe God would rather have one good, honest question, asked from a place of love and need for understanding than a thousand empty hallelujahs! But the key is, after the asking…..to remain.
As we continue on this journey of discovery through the season of Lent, I challenge you – and myself – to not shrink from the hard questions we have for God, but boldly ask…..then, just as Tom’s church mouse did…..remain securely in His safe hands while we await answers. It may be that they come…..or that they don’t…..or we cease the need to find them. One thing I am sure of tonight – following my recent trip down the river of sorrow – is that there is truly no place I would rather abide, to remain……than in His hands.