When I was in college, I worked for an after school day care business at an elementary school in Cookeville, TN. It was a good college job that was always filled with some surprising ridiculousness... like the day my boss had to hose off the sidewalk because of a kindergartner who wasn't all that potty trained yet, but whose mother thought boxers would be a good idea... or like the consistent rhythm of lice outbreaks. One mother even shaved her daughter's head... Twice! Well, every fall we would take the kids on a field trip to a local farmer's corn maze and pumpkin patch to go on a hayride and pick out a pumpkin for home. It was always a fairly ridiculous trip... like the time a kid was so allergic to the hay and straw that his little face exploded into a bulbous, oozing, red balloon and one of our leaders had to spend the whole afternoon with him on the bus... or the time a kid got stuck in a rustic-themed obstacle course/fun house slide and got so freaked out that he screamed and then used the bathroom right there on the straw strewn slide.
These were my corn maze experiences. This is the kind of craziness I came to associate with pumpkin patches, so you can imagine my reticence and well, flat out fear when Christy suggested we take our kids to some farm out in the middle of nowhere and do the corn maze thing again. My initial internal reaction? "Lame..."
Long story short, our trip to the pumpkin patch was one of the funnest and sweetest things I've done in a long time. It turned out that Patty and Patrick came into town, so the kids got to spend the day with their sweet cousins, and folks, the corn maze we went to in Halls was awesome!! They had a giant blob buried in the sand that was basically just an enormous trampoline the size of a small house. They had a go cart track for little cars that kids could pedal around. They had a huge sandbox complete with shovels and Tonka trucks. There were slides, a bouncy castle and a great little hayride, and there was a ton more cool stuff there. It was a perfect day, we got some great pictures and had an amazing time. Lesson? The thing I thought would be lame because of some bad experiences wound up being a lot cooler than I thought.
I was reading Colossians 1 this morning and there is a place where Paul shares his prayer for these folks, and he starts building up this crescendo of things he wants for them, and it's a list that starts with walking and ends in all the glorious power of Almighty God... "And we pray this in order that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have..."
Have what?!? What's he building up to here? Paul seems to be pumping up the volume and cranking up the drama so that he can reveal the very height of spiritual maturity! Surely this next statement will represent the most amazing, earth-shattering ministry, right?! Well, maybe not. Or at least, not to our ears... Paul says, "...being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."
That's the big ending... The height of spiritual maturity and manifestation of all the power of God in a person's life: endurance, patience and gratitude. It may not seem like much, but what God is really working for in the hearts of His people, the thing that really pleases His heart is a person that just patiently hangs in there every day, thanking God for where they are and what He has given. I'm not saying I'm there yet, but the older I get and the farther into this walk I get, it's what I want more and more. It may not look like much to us, but when you try it on, you find it's cooler than you think.