There are times when the situations in our lives don’t always make sense. We feel like we are going down the path that God directed us to; we’ve prayed, committed, and thanked him for all He has provided for us, and yet, suddenly, it’s as if we are isolated on an island. In these moments we must persistently pray. In the moments when we are overwhelmed, frustrated, and quite possibly just want to cash it all in, it’s in those moments God is saying, “Wait. Be patient. I have something wonderful planned for you, greater than you could ever imagine.” Nothing is too trivial or too big for God, so we must trust in His plan no matter the circumstances. Nichole was led to lead a small group during a Young Adult service on a Sunday night. Small groups were being pushed that night and there was a need for new leaders. Nichole felt the tug in her heart and she knew God was telling her it was her time to lead. She had never led a small group before and she was terrified. She knew there were so many obstacles that would make it difficult to bring a small group together, especially a location. Yet, she still persisted in her journey and soon she had a group of girls that met regularly.
Unfortunately, the group fell apart since busy schedules conflicted, and soon the group was dwindling down. Nichole and life group member, Gabby, began to pray constantly that God would bring in dedicated women to their group and provide a location for them to meet. Often coffee shops would be full without any tables available and, at times, they would hold their groups in someone’s car, which is hardly conductive for heart-to-heart chats. Nichole and Gabby were beginning to feel discouraged, but they continued to find the silver lining. Nichole was feeling as if she had failed her group, let her girl’s down, and even failed God. Still they prayed and had hope that God would give them an answer. They decided God must have put the group together in order for them to grow closer, and if their friendship was the only thing that came out of it then they knew there must be a plan in that. A week later Nichole was asked if she would like to have her group sponsored at a women’s event and she jumped at the opportunity thrilled to meet more girls. Gabby and Nichole immediately thanked God and continued praying for a location and more girls to join. Soon Nichole’s phone was flooded with messages and her group grew from two to eight. However, a location was still non- existent.
A couple weeks later Nichole ran into a friend, who had stopped attending Young Adults because of school. Nichole invited her to the group and asked her to pray for a location. In that moment Nichole’s friend offered up her house to the group. Nichole was stunned and shocked that God had provided a way for the group to grow. In less than two months God had quadrupled the size of the group and found them a location nearby. Now Nichole’s group ha s twelve women and they all get along and share life together as if they have known each other their entire lives. Everyone has something to bring into the group and discussions are deep and heartfelt. Prayer is powerful. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” When we pray we can’t always expect things to happen right away. We have to learn to trust God will give us what we need in the right moment. Even during times where we feel hopeless, we must remember that prayer can move mountains. The more we trust in God the closer we become to Him and we find intimacy the more we communicate with Him. Prayer is asking God to align you with His will, rather than asking Him to be aligned with yours.
We regularly talk about Small Groups and their importance in our spiritual and personal growth. Taking that conversation one step further, we have created the opportunity to share and highlight how Small Groups are making an impact.
Small Groups are essential to how we grow in our relationship with Christ. Often we think that we can hold ourselves accountable and call all of the shots, but we are not equipped to handle the responsibility of running our own lives. Small Group is where we learn to share life with one another. It’s where we can laugh with each other, cry with each other, and create lasting relationships with other believers. God never wanted us to do life on our own, but rather seek and follow Him, while creating a bond and fellowship with other men and women we can lean on and grow with. Whether it’s with a group of four or a group of thirty, being in community with one another is so much more fulfilling than facing life alone.
There will be times in our life when God will ask us to get up and walk with Him on a spiritual adventure. Most of the time, we don’t know where this will take us, but still, we must press forward trusting that God will never leave us alone. This walk with God can be physically, mentally, and spiritually uncomfortable. Yet, He wants us to step out in faith so that He can amaze us with this beautiful plan He has for each and every one of us. There are times when God asks us to move, we are unwilling to do so and we miss out on opportunities that can change our lives. God does not want us to remain stagnant in our relationship with Him. He wants to use us and move through us in whatever way possible.
Gina Rodrigues used to be in immense pain and would lay stranded, unable to move and uncertain of how her life was going to end up. She would often go numb from a herniated disk in her lower back and everyday activities would leave Gina exhausted with sciatic nerve pain which would spread into her legs. Her couch was where she found comfort and solace from the afflictions that were taking over her life. The less she moved, the less she hurt. However, she knew she had to heal or she would remain in the security of her couch cushions. Exasperated, she began to pray to God. Each hour she would pray that He would relieve the pain she had to live with and just help her get through the day. God not only had a plan for Gina to trust Him more, but to also begin her healing process.
Gina was led to a small group called Run for God where she would not only learn scripture that pertains to faith, strength, perseverance, trust and obedience, but also train for twelve weeks to run a 5K race. The group meets for 90 minutes where they spend 30 minutes discussing scripture, 30 minutes learning about the dynamics of training (stretching, running form, nutrition) and 30 minutes training for an actual race. They begin with a combination of walking and jogging and, each week, increase to eventually build to thirty minutes of jogging. The class focuses on the power of relying on God and learning how to honor the bodies He has provided for us. Gina went to every class and through scripture learned, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13.
The first few weeks of her training were agonizing. While everyone else was running around the parking lot, Gina was left walking as her muscles would spasm and tighten. She began to feel dizzy as everyone passed her. Taking a short break, her eyes focused on her goal and she thought back to Isaiah 41:13, “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” She knew that God brought her to this small group for a reason and she began to trust what He had planned for her no matter how uncomfortable she felt. She didn’t give up because she knew God was walking right beside her.
As the weeks passed, Gina began to notice changes in her body. She understood her body more, how it worked specifically for her, and how she could push herself beyond anything she ever imagined before. She saw the progress in her recovery and when the big race came she was determined, knowing God was right beside her. She was doing something that was impossible for her a few months before. She was no longer seeking comfort over progress, and was now seeking a life trusting God completely. As she crossed the finish line, the rest of her Run for God teammates cheered her on as they celebrated a great victory. If it wasn’t for listening to what God had planned and trusting in His plan, Gina would have never broken the cycle that consumed her life.
Today Run for God has changed Gina’s life in more ways than one. Not only is she healing physically, but her family has grown closer to God and to each other. They now spend more time together and enjoy hiking and taking in God’s creations. Gina sees the progress Run for God has given her and thanks God everyday for leading her to where He knew she needed to be. She is still recovering, but now the good days outweigh the bad.
Sometimes when we think about walking with God it can fill us with uncertainty and it usually takes a huge leap of faith and complete trust in what He has planned for us. When we avoid the leap we get stuck in this comfort zone where we are in a comfortable spiritual routine and exercise that fits like the favorite spot on the couch and we sink right in and think, “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” It’s easy; there are pillows and a foot rest. Who would want to move? If we don’t move, we will never get to see what God has planned for us. We miss out on this great adventure and an exciting life that we hope for, but never actually get around to do. We miss the part where we get to go outside, feel the cool breeze and take a walk with God. And at times, God will ask us to run with Him.