From my first meeting with Connor I knew he was someone I would never forget. He was a 14 year old in the first youth club I was involved with leading, and after we’d chatted for a while and got to know each other a bit, he ended the conversation by saying, “If you ever want me to shoot anyone for you, just let me know and I’ll sort it out!”
I’m almost certain he wasn’t serious, though I was relieved to have got on his good side 🙂 As I got to know him more though, I discovered that he did have a disturbingly detailed knowledge of guns and he seemed to spend most of his spare time playing violent computer games.
He came regularly to the youth club over the next two years and we had some good chats but I was never sure how much impact any of it was having on him.
On the final day of the youth club before the summer holidays we decided to have a beach party. About 30 teenagers, mainly boys, gathered on the beach and all was going well until one of the boys started messing around and hit someone in the eye with a stone.
Two leaders went to take care of the boy who was hurt and I was left on the beach with another leader and the rest of the young people. That was when things began to get difficult.
Although it had been an accident, the friends of the boy who was hurt wanted revenge, and the friends of the boy who had thrown the stone were prepared to defend him. It seemed that instantly the group divided into two opposing sides and, as the tension rose, they began to move towards one another, gearing up for a fight.
I looked at the other leader who was on the beach with me but she seemed oblivious to what was happening. I knew I had to do something but I had no idea what. There wasn’t really time to think, so I prayed- just three words: “God, help me.” Then I walked into the middle of the group of boys and just said quietly but firmly, “There will be no fighting tonight.”
To my amazement, both sides immediately backed off and moved apart! I stood there in the middle for a moment wondering what had just happened. I knew that somehow God had given my words authority which had diffused the tension and averted the crisis.
Strangely though, that wasn’t the biggest miracle I saw that night. People were still upset about what had happened and, although a fight had been prevented, some of the boys were still angry and wanting to take revenge. As I moved among the group I saw Connor chatting with a few of the younger boys, trying to calm them down, and as I walked past I could hardly believe the words coming out of his mouth: “Violence isn’t a good way to solve your problems.”
I realised that somehow those two years had made an impact on him and changed him. Just the fact that he was engaging with the younger boys to try to help sort out the problem was amazing but I couldn’t believe how much his attitude seemed to have changed since that first conversation.
I think often we associate the word “miracle” with an instant event, like a sudden healing or the immediate transformation of a situation, and it is amazing when we see these things happen, but the definition of a miracle simply says “an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God.”
Sometimes miracles happen slowly.
Sometimes they happen so gradually that we don’t even notice. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of it, it seems like nothing is happening at all. We can’t always see what God is doing and it can be tempting to give up because it seems that our prayers or our efforts are pointless.
But if we quit, we might miss the miracle.
I am not a very patient person. I find it hard to wait when I want something to happen, but I am learning that, just because God’s work is often slower than I might like, it doesn’t mean he’s not working. I’m encouraged to keep going, that the prayers and perseverance are worth the effort and that the result will be worth it in the end.
The miracle is always worth the wait.
“So my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)