We have a really amazing bunch of youth group students here at our church. For our recent VBS, out of a youth group of fifteen, we had twelve of them helping (it would have been thirteen, but one was out of town for several weeks). An 80% participation rate… great stuff! I’ve been bragging about them to everyone I know :)

A couple of our elders wanted to treat all of the volunteers to a nice dinner at Todai on a couple Sundays ago — which was awesome! — but the restaurant didn’t open until 5:30 pm. So, with most of the afternoon to wait, we decided to catch a film together after church. We were this close to allowing me to nerd out over Transformers, but we got there a little bit too late and it had already sold out. [A quick aside: If anyone would like to join me on this nerd-venture in SD, please let me know.] So, we ended up watching Evan Almighty together…

While I must admit that I like most films, I really enjoyed this movie — as did the students and youth group teachers who joined us. I know some people have criticized the film for being simplistic or preachy, but it was lots of fun. There was one scene, in particular, that surprised me by how it affected me. Lauren Graham’s character has just left Steve Carrell, and finds herself unknowingly engaged in a conversation with God (Morgan Freeman) at a diner. Here is what God says to her:

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

Many young people want to be great in God’s kingdom — which is a noble goal. But we often send the wrong message to them by upholding bigger! flashier! cooler! as the standard for greatness. Maybe, instead of zapping us with a bolt of greatness, God gives us opportunities to attempt great things for Him (thanks, William Carey!) in our everyday lives.

For example, on Saturday, September 29, 2007, walktheirwalk is hosting a walk-a-thon to raise funds to build a school and provide fresh water “for children in Zambia, Africa who have been orphaned as a result of the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty.” [h/t: Marko]. While I admit the prospect of walking 12 miles makes me want to take a nap already, I am humbled and moved to know that there are kids there who make this walk every single day to and from school. And that makes me want to attempt something great for God. Members of our youth group will be there. I will be there, even if I need to be dragged across the finish line. If you are in the San Diego area, let’s do this!