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Marbles

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I think I’ve mentioned before that our church isn’t especially traditional in its methods of delivering God’s Word. Grounded in truth? Absolutely! I love that our pastor never minces words about the truth of the Bible.

marbles

But, traditional in style? Not so much. So, this past Sunday, we had one of the “worship experiences” that we do two or three times a year. These always make me uncomfortable (at the idea, never during) because they mean that we’re going to leave the worship center, go into the “warehouse” and go through several stations designed to offer the opportunity to worship God in a different way.

Now, lest you think that we’re too far off our rockers, these stations usually involve things like: reflecting on some aspect of God’s character and what He’s done in your life and writing out a message to Him or getting out of your own little bubble of selfishness and realizing how wealthy we, as Americans, are as a people and thinking about how we might serve others. Nothing crazy.

I’m always amazed at how powerful the experience is and this past Sunday was no exception.

The first station that the kids and I went to featured these sloped mazes (think “Plinko”) a container of marbles and buckets of paint.

Table

You were supposed to take the marble, dip it in paint, and release it down the maze. Then, you were to pick the marble up out of the water trough at the end, wipe it off, and go to this table in the center and read the paper there.

I released my marble and it went through the little maze just fine. Megan’s and Josh’s marble got stuck a couple times and we had to give them a boost. Oops, I thought. This isn’t working quit right.

paint

It was, though. Here’s what the paper read:

“As you hold the marble, look back at the table it just traveled through. No two paths are exactly the same. You could start at the exact same spot every time and end up at a different place on the table. Sometimes the marble gets stuck and you have to make sure it keeps moving. Your path will always cross the path another marble took. There will be no isolated paths.

In the same way, our lives are interactions with everyone around us. Our paths are not all the same, but our destination is: Jesus. Some people have grown up hearing about Jesus their whole lives. Some people discovered Him later in their lives, but He is pursuing each of of us to restore the relationship we broke through sin. Some people seem to get stuck and need help moving past whatever obstacle has stalled them out.

The question is, what are you doing with the interaction you have with other people on their paths? Are you trying to “get by” with minimal resistance and accountability? Just like Paul poured into Timothy as a mentor, who are you pouring your life into? Who are you allowing to train you up?

We were to keep the marble as a reminder that:

Two are better than one,because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

The paper finished by saying:

Just like you cleaned off the marble, Christ has restored you to a blameless, clear state in His eyes. Who are you sharing the freeing relationship with? Who are you purposefully interacting with for the sake of showing them Jesus?

See? Good stuff. Powerful stuff.

Who are you pouring into? Who are you allowing to pour into you? There is always someone a little “behind” us in their walk with Christ who could use someone to mentor them. There is also always someone “ahead” of us whose guidance we could use.

marbles

My answer to the question of who I’m pouring into has always been my kids – well, since I’ve had children – but I think that’s a bit of a cop-out. I mean, I think it’s a given that I should pour, spiritually, into my children, but I bet God has someone else in mind in whom He’d like to see me investing.

And, I certainly hope that He has someone in mind whom He’d like to see investing in me. Quite honestly, I’m falling down in both of those relationships right now. I’m very guilty of trying to get by with minimal resistance…and, if I’m honest, minimal accountability.

Will you pray about who God would have you to pour into…or whom you’d allow to pour into you?

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6 Comments

  1. I used to go to a church like that and then I faced this question that I ask you-how is that worship?  You wrote "several stations designed to offer the opportunity to worship God in a different way" and our pastor said similar things, but when I really thought about what worship has always meant, those activities didn't even come close to worshipping an omnipotent God.  I don't ask this to be snarky but because I really want your opinion.

  2. I hope my answer doesn't come across as snarky, either. I don't mean it to.
    I guess the answer to your question depends upon your definition of worship. I think we have to be careful about putting our omnipotent God into a box of any sort — what He is or isn't, what we will and won't allow Him to do in our lives, and what it means to worship Him.

    One of the stations was taking communinion. I think that falls under most people's definition of worship. Another was designed to demonstrate how many thousands of people die of hunger each day and to offer a time of reflection on what we, as individuals, can do to combat that. Caring for God's people is a command from Christ. Obeying His commands is an act of worship.

    A third station was reflecting on who God is in our lives and what He has done for us. Focusing on God's character and action in our lives and taking time to praise Him for who He is and thank Him for what He's done is an act of worship.

    The marble station was about focusing on how we interact with those around us. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. A disciple isn't a follower. Disciple comes from the Latin word discipulae (which I may or may not have spelled correctly), which means student. We're to make (and become) all people students of Chist. This means more than making someone a convert. It means pouring into them and mentoring
    them. It also means that someone will mentor us. Again, doing so is acting
    out of obedience to Christ. Obedience is a spiritual act of worship.

    Finally, the last part of the marble station was thinking about how Christ
    made us each into a new creation and thanking Him for that. I think anytime
    you take time to honestly thank and praise Christ for the things He's done
    for you is a moment of worshipping Him. And, again, acting out of obedience
    by sharing with others what He's done for you is obedience, an act of
    worship.

    We ended with a more traditonal form of worship — praise and worship songs
    and a time of prayer. I think, though, that worship means much more than
    singing songs of praise. While the whole stations thing may be different
    than the norm, I do think that these types of acts that cause us to focus on
    different aspects of our faith and different characteristics of our God have
    just as much merit as what someone may typically think of as worship. This
    isn't something that we do every week, but only a couple of times a year.
    It's always very powerful, though, and draws me closer to God. I definitely
    think that falls under the heading of worship.

  3. Ooohhhh, I like that illustration.  I'm gonna have to try and steal that for my Sunday School class sometime.
    This for me is an obvious one, but have you thought about teaching Sunday School or something like that?  It's amazing how much that is forcing me to learn and grow as I pour into them.

  4. I work in the preschool department. Little kids really force you to focus. 😉 I had planned to post about one of the other stations, soon, but I did mention the other stations in a reply to a comment just a few minutes ago. It may or may not be showing up yet. Sometimes it takes them awhile.

  5. I of course saw the updated comments with your reply right after I hit enter.

    I work with 3/4 graders, so it's a little easier to pour into them and challenge them spiritually because you can get better conversations going.  I've been avoiding preschool like the plague (though I might not so much now that my kids are all out of it).    Preschool really does require that focus.

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