It is Tuesday--cell group evening--cell group without Paul who left on a business trip on Sunday; Paul who is the technical part of my brain.
I push my way in through the front door, laden with rustling bags holding crusty Calabrese bread--fragrant and yeasty, a cake to celebrate a birthday—and a favourite ice cream—Iditarod.
The butter chicken made the night before is soon on the stove warming, the rice heating in the microwave and green beans steaming. Darkly delicious coffee drips into the waiting glass carafe, redolent and promising.
I wrestle the screen into submission, sweating with the unaccustomed effort of hoisting it on high.
People begin to arrive. Laughter, plates clattering, cutlery distributed, many hands loading plates with plentiful food, spreading soft bread with pale yellow, salty butter. Latecomers arrive, they too gather plates of food and soon, replete, with coffee or cold drinks in hand, it is time for session 5 of the Alpha series.
I tell the traditional Alpha opening joke. I’ve never thought of myself as able to tell jokes but over the past few weeks it’s been fun learning. People erupt into laughter as I get to the punch line and I realize that I’m enjoying this—me telling jokes—unbelievable.
The moment I’ve been dreading has now arrived; the moment in which I hold two remote controls in my hand and hope the DVD player and projector will work. All along I’ve hoped that Susan will rescue me, but no, she is coaching from the sidelines.
“You can do it,” she is saying. And I don’t even realize that I’m pointing the “wands” (thanks Dave for the funny word for these things) at the screen instead of the machines they’re supposed to operate. Susan helpfully tells me to where to point them. I’m very stressed.
“I can’t do it. I NEED your help!” I say testily, forgetting that we are at cell group where we are all supposed to be loving and kind.
“I’m not your friend any more!” I hear myself declaring, realizing as I do, that I have regressed to the level of a four year old.
Lesley-Ann is laughing. I suppose it would be funny to me too, if I wasn’t having a panic attack.
What’s this—the screen is filling with a picture. Susan is coaching again from her chair, “Select the language; choose the session, you can do it.”
I feel like I’m being coached through labour and about to give birth to a very big baby that I wish would go right back where it came from.
But the session is starting. I DID IT! And I feel relief mingled with reluctant pride that I really did do it. I conquered the remote controls—let’s forget I was pointing them in the wrong direction entirely. I feel as if that baby has been pulled out of me. I have given birth!
I ask Susan afterwards to forgive me for my childish behaviour. And she does; and tells me she doesn’t know any more than I do about these machines; I don’t know why I always assume others must know more than me.
And I think about how reluctantly we grow sometimes but how good it felt to do something that I had convinced myself I couldn’t, because in spite of all of my whining, no one would rescue me.
Wow, I wonder what else I’m capable of.
And I think of how God knows what we really are capable of and how we are prone to freeze in our tracks and put all kinds of limits on ourselves and really on him, because all he asks for is someone available to be used.
So Lord, tonight here I am again, giving myself to you to do with what you will. And I know that there is no limit to what you can do through someone who is brave enough to just try and trust.
Sometimes I forget who you are and act like a four year old and yell at you that I really can't do it. I'm glad that you are Wisdom and Goodness and that if you leave me to flounder it's because you know I have it in me to do more than I believe I can.
And more than even that--you in me; there is no limit.
Ephesians 3:20 (New International Version)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,