I love Peter's experience of walking on the roaring sea with Jesus. But the thing is, Peter's story is often misunderstood. Do you have a step you need to take?
Listen to this message I gave at a women's retreat to gain the fresh perspective you need to see Jesus in a new way! My FREE gift to you!
As our bus rolled into the dusty stomping grounds of Camp Lighthouse, a huge smile stretched across my face.
We were finally here! This camp, I was told, would be filled with kids enjoying their summer. Unlike most camps here in the USA, these kids stay at this camp for easily weeks at a time. The kids we visited with were all ages from 9 to 12 years-old. As a former children’s minister, I was beyond ready to make conversation and play! As a mom of three boys, I had so much energy not having them with me overseas, I was ready to take on the first thing thrown in my direction.
We began by presenting our famous retelling of the Prodigal Son (more of this in weeks to come…and even a video!).
We followed-up with balloon animals, tattoos, and games. There is nothing like having a child’s complete attention as they place their hand in yours to receive a tattoo. These moments gave me the time to look into their dust-filled eyes and make a connection. Many of the kids spoke English which allowed for great, deeper conversation.
As my tattoo station wrapped-up, I saw a ball bouncing around in the distance. “Time to play…finally” I thought as I scurried off to find out more.
Eric, the pastor of the church we were working with began a game that I believe translates here in the USA. The person that it “it” first throws the ball in the air and shouts the name of any person I the circle. As the ball is flying in the air, the person being called attempts to catch the ball while everyone else runs away. If the person catches the ball, he or she calls another name (and the game continues until someone does not successfully catch the ball). However, when the ball is not caught, the person must eventually grab the ball and yell, “STOP!” At this command, all of the players must freeze. The person with the ball may then take three giant steps towards anyone “frozen” and throw the ball at their legs or feet. If the person misses, they receive a letter. If they hit the other person, the other player receives a letter. The game continues until only one player is remaining that has not received all of the letters in the word “S-T-O-P.”
As I was watching the ball being thrown, hearing the Russian language mixed with laughter, the little girl in me was so eager for the next game to begin. As I was working on how I would join the game, a little boy with light brown hair and green eyes came up to me, looked me up and down, said a fast line in Russian and started laughing. I could tell whatever he said wasn’t going to end well for me, but the boy actually stood there long enough for me to call for a translator.
The boy was saying, “Girls from America can’t play ball!”
In the words of my boys, it was “on like Donkey Kong” from that moment on.
The game eventually ended and I found a person from our American team to hold my belongings. I needed no distraction. In all reality, I needed a miracle! Absolutely nobody from our American team played! So here I was, surrounded in a circle by mostly boys and counselors from Ukraine that I didn’t even know the names of. Better yet, some names had so many syllables, there was no way I was going to be able to remember them correctly!
Remember, I have vision-loss, hearing loss, and a short right arm. I was supposed to catch a flying ball in the bright sun after successfully hearing someone call my name. After I find the ball, I was supposed to try to successfully hit someone from a few feet away.
Did I mention I am also slightly impulsive?
As the game played out, somehow between all the laughter and many selfies the kids asked me to take while we were waiting to be hit (see below), I ended up being one of the last 2 players in the game! And ready for this? I actually caught the ball once! I was so shocked, it took me a minute to remember that I ended to call another name!
It was me and, you guessed who, the very kid who taunted me earlier that American girls can’t play ball. Obviously, this is why God had me here. To chase this lie away!
My name was called.
The ball bounced.
I had a quick recovery and the boy was just literally inches away.
I looked for reassurance from a translator and I was given the sign to move forward.
With the slightest underhand throw, I knocked the boy out of the running for first place. I wasn’t the least bit sorry either. He reassured me with a high-five followed by laughter.
That’s right. A “girl” (at age 36, I’ll take that!) from America who has vision-loss, hearing-loss and doesn’t speak a lick of Russian won the game.
It was a “drop the mic” moment for real.
The boys were amazed, especially my new friend.
Through a translator, we talked for a minute after the game. He asked me why my eyes looked weird. I shared about some of the struggles God has used to show me how much He loves me.
I’ll never forget his parting words, “So you had God to help you win…that’s not fair!” My response was simply, “God can help you too. Just let Him know you are interested. He will take it from there.”
I wish I had more time with that boy, but maybe God did enough shaking-up of his world for one day!
In our lives, I believe we still have the voices of our younger selves shouting to be heard. It’s so easy to just get comfortable in the “proper adult way” of doing life. If you know me well at all, you know that this game wasn’t the first time I’ve ever taken up a challenge…and it will not be the last.
There will always be those voices in our lives that will come at us from the outside, challenging us that we cannot take that next best step. These voices that dare to define us by our outward appearance or what they believe we are capable of doing.
It’s moments like these that we need a few seconds at least to get quiet before the Lord and seek His face.
Bethany, I, the LORD your God am in your midst, a Mighty One Who will save; I will rejoice over you with gladness; I will quiet you by My love; I will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)
There is no doubt in my mind that God really did help me win that game. As silly as it sounds, it’s the very thing the boy I met and honestly, I myself needed to see. I drew closer to God that day and made a few new friends in the process.
Bethany, this includes you, called of Jesus Christ and invited [as you are] to belong to Him. (Romans 1:6 AMP)
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you – Bethany – completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NLT)
How are you allowing God to use you today? Go forward in Christ and let’s play ball!
Hello and welcome to Step Out And Thrive Ministries! My name is Bethany Boring and I am proud to be called a child of God before any other title or role. I am a mom to 3 amazing boys. I enjoy writing for this Step Out And Thrive community and walking with you as we venture through the ups and downs of life together. I am an ICF trained Certified Professional Christian Life Coach (Christian Coach Institute Graduate), Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, mentor, Certified Human Behavioral Consultant (DISC Personality) and an author. As always - dare to do more than just survive, step out and thrive!
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