God 52 – challenges 1 – 5
So I’m a bit behind on blogging on God 52 so I’m chucking the first five challenges in one (very brief) post. Otherwise we’ll be here forever. If you want more detail into the challenges, and want to get in on this then I suggest you visit the God 52 blog – http://god52.wordpress.com/ or find it in my blog roll at the bottom of the page.
My reactions to these challenges have been really mixed so far. Some of them I’ve leapt at and some of them I’ve waited until the 11th hour to do them, and then maybe only so I can say “I did it!”, not really as an exercise of growth & development.
I’ve also started sharing God 52 with the young people I work with. The reaction has been really mixed and if I’m completely honest I wasn’t expecting a real response or involvement from them – but read on to find out what happened.
The challenge was simple – perfom an act of generosity.
Unfortunately I completely failed. I don’t know what it was, my motivation, lack of opportunity (or me seeking opportunities) but whatever it was I didn’t start well.
The youth thought it was a good idea, but it didn’t really go beyond that.
This week we had to pray, for 3 hours (not necessarily in one sitting) about one specific thing.
Normally me & prayer don’t get on so I was daunted by this challenge, but also excited. I thought that maybe it might inspire and help change that attitude. And it did! I found myself deliberately making space so I could pray – I walked Daniel to school, instead of driving so I could pray whilst walking, and then on the return journey. I kept on praying and you know what? The thing I prayed about was a real success! Since then I wouldn’t say my prayer life has had a complete makeover but it’s definitely on the up!
I think the young people were equally daunted by this challenge. One of the issues I’m having is that I see them on the Sunday night and the challenges end on the Monday so they didn’t have long to do it!
This week was all around humility – our challenge was to perform an anonymous act of kindness.
I failed! For the first half of the week I was bed-ridden with some sort of cold/man-flu so actually getting out of the door was a challenge. The second half of the week I was still recovering. I also realised that I didn’t have many opportunities to be kind anonymously! I work in an office of only 2 people – if I did something kind in the office I it wouldn’t take a genius to work out who did it!
In the end, illness limiting me I did what I could – I shovelled the driveway we share with our neighbour and cleared all the snow off it. I don’t think they saw me but I’m guessing they knew it was me, but I didn’t try to claim any credit or hang around until they noticed – maybe not such a failure after all.
This, for me, is where God 52 really got exciting, and I started seeing responses from the young people.
This week the challenge was fasting – something I used to do on a regular basis, and actually enjoyed doing. Something about the hunger focusses the mind. The hunger for food translates to a hunger for God and I always find the time beneficial. Not always easy but definitely beneficial. I enjoyed this challenge!
I told the youth and to be honest I wasn’t expecting a lot. But two of the girls in my group said they’d do it – and they did! I was blown away! They even did it on the day it was their turn to cook for their family – the just didn’t cook for themselves!
Below is the text conversation I had with one of the sisters after this challenge (permission received & identity removed):
I DID IT! I fasted all day yesterday 😀
I was so hungry, I woke up in the middle of the night and had some hula hoops at 3 because it had been a whole day but I like that I managed it and I did pray every mealtime 🙂
It was interesting to see how much we need food and how God looks after us 🙂 [in response to me asking whether Mum was mad:] Well she fasts sometimes so she thought it would be good for us to see and I was cooking dinner so I just didn’t cook for me and [my sister] 🙂
How freakin amazing! I was so overjoyed when I got these texts! Such an amazing humbling response from these two young people. And from then on it just seems to have caught.
Those texts were on a Monday. I saw this girl on the Tuesday at the school CU where I told them about God 52. She asked me what the next challenge was (see week 5) & I told her. I saw her again on the Wednesday and she said “have you done the challenge yet Nick?”, “No” I replied, “Well I have, what are you waiting for” was her response! Awesome!!
Well, this one wasn’t easy! As I write I have just done this challenge. I haven’t had a response and I don’t know if I will but I’ve done it.
The challenge was to offer to pray for a non-Christian (& tell them).
Not easy! I told the CU and one of the responses was “they’ll just hit me!!” Anyway, I have done it and I wait to see what, if any, the response will be.
The young people seem to be catching on to this idea now and it’s really exciting to hear them every week ask me and chase me for the latest challenge (they could find out for themselves but they’re not…). This week alongside the girl mentioned above, her sister and a friend have all got stuck in with this challenge and all told a non-Christian they’re praying for them.
It’s so amazing to see them take these courageous steps for God and so humbling.
Bring on the next challenges! My thoughts and responses should be a bit more detailed in the future – just playing catch up at the mo.