6/5/16 - Grab A Shovel

The Bridge Life Connection: Grab a Shovel                    Sunday, June 5, 2016

Speaker: Lead Pastor Justin Douglas

How many of you have old-school parents? You know what I'm talking about? The kind of old-school parents, this is what I mean, like, the ones that work hard work, the phrase "hard work," into just like common sentences. Right? Like their coffee's not right at Starbucks...'See, this generation, they don't know how to do hard work anymore.' You know what I'm saying? Like just random stuff they work into like "hard work." Or they work in the phrase "attitude adjustment" into every conversation. The problem-solving for everything is an attitude adjustment.

This was my dad. This was the...some of the things I remember about my dad. He was hilarious. He still is hilarious. But growing up, I remember him as like, the typical kind of old-school...my dad was born and raised in Indiana. If you think Bobby Knight and you think Indiana, you're probably in line with where my dad falls in. You know, I think he got his parenting skills from watching IU basketball. Like, you know, he never threw a chair at me, but you know...

It was awesome growing up with my dad, and so I remember this one morning. I was probably 13 or 14, and it's a Saturday morning. What do you do on Saturday mornings as a 13- and 14-year-old? You SLEEP, right? This is what you do on Saturday morning. Well, not in my dad's house, because if you're hardly working, or what's the phrase? Working hard or hardly working, yes. I heard that all the time, too. I can't even say it right I heard it so much.

So anyway, I'm 13 or 14, and my dad comes into my room and says, "Hey Justin, get out of bed." And then the worst three words he could say. "Grab your boots." Ohhhhh. It's Saturday morning, I'm supposed to be sleeping, and he just told me to grab my boots. That means we're doing real work. And so, he takes me out to the back, and we look over this 7-acre spread, and my dad has been talking for like a year about putting a fence in. And for some reason, this Saturday morning, with no planning or preparation, he woke up deciding, "Today's the day." And he's like, 'I'm gonna need a teammate.' And he's like, 'Justin, get outta bed.'

And so we're looking here, and he had spray-painted off this 4' x 4' square. And he handed me a shovel similar to this one {shovel on stage}, and he said, 'Start digging.' And I said, 'Til when?' 'Til you're four feet deep.' I said, Uhhhhh, okay...I guess.' And so I was like, 'Where's your shovel, Dad?' He's like, 'I got things to do. Don't worry about it.' Right?

Okay, so I don't see my dad, I start shoveling. Like, 10 o'clock comes around, my dad comes out, brings me a drink, and he's like, 'Looks good, son. Keep digging.' You know? I think I'm like a foot down. Like you know what I mean? This is tough work. This is hard ground, too, it's not easy. And so, by lunchtime, I come in, I eat, and I'm like, this can't be what we're doing. Like, I'm talking to my mom and whispering. Have you ever done this as a kid? Where you're like, talking to your mom, 'Talk some sense into him! You have leverage, I have nothing! What is happening?'

And so, I'm trying to talk sense into my mom like 'Mom, you realize this is a 7-acre fence! Do you know how many corner posts we're gonna need to make this thing work? It's not just like the simple four, we're gonna have to put a few in the middle and stuff.' So I'm sitting here like, he can't expect me to dig every one of these! The rest of my Saturdays for the rest of the year booked? Is that what I just found out today? So I'm sitting here digging and eating lunch. I'm sitting here like thinking, this is awful. And my dad comes in and he's like, 'Time to get back out there, son.' You know?

And so I go back out and I'm digging, and I'm digging, and all of a sudden I hear this noise off in the distance. And it starts getting louder and louder, and it's of an engine running. And my dad comes around the corner of the barn with a backhoe. 'Get out of the hole, Justin,' and digs the rest out with the backhoe, about 3 p.m. probably it is, and digs the remaining holes before 5 o'clock.

I was pretty pissed. I'm not gonna lie. Not gonna lie. I wanted to throw the shovel at my dad. I was like, 'We're gonna go. Right now.' Apparently, you know? My dad was like, 'It was good for you to get some hard work in on a Saturday, you know. A good lesson learned.' I'm like, 'The only lesson I learned is I don't want to do any work that requires a shovel! Ever again in my life!' I had blisters on my hand. I was tired.

And so today as we talk, we are going to be talking about a story that has shovels in it. Some background of the story that's found in 2 Kings 3 that we're going to go into today, this is one of the stories of Elisha. Not Elijah, but Elisha. Elisha was the successor of Elijah, so it's kind of confusing...similar names. But Elisha is this rookie prophet on the scene at this time, and the kings have not called him yet to prophesy. So usually what happens is the kings call on the prophet and say, 'What should we do?'

But the kings get in trouble, right? And what happens when we get in trouble? When we get in trouble, we sometimes are like, 'Oh, I guess I should wake up. Maybe I should actually consider what God might think about where I found myself.' Because that's how it usually works for us, right? We maybe stop praying for awhile and then all of a sudden we realize, 'Oh, I found myself in a tough place. Maybe I should actually start working on my relationship with God.'

And so the kings find themselves in this place, and they reach out to Elisha. So here's how the story goes. In 2 Kings 3:9, "So the King of Israel set out with the King of Judah and the King of Edom." So these are the three kings together. "After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no water for themselves or for the animals with them."

Now think about this. This is a big problem. Imagine you have three kingdoms brought together, three kings going to battle together, this is a huge army all collected. They've been marching for seven days. This tells you they planned on having this battle won. It doesn't go into detail, but something happened because they did not set out with seven days' supplies because they assumed it was going to happen, they were going to come back, it was going to be done. Along the way, they ran into difficulty. And now they find themselves without water.

Now, if you're a soldier in the desert, which is where this is placed, water is a matter of life and death. So that's where we pick up the story. There is a matter of life and death before these three kings. Here's how it goes. "'What,' exclaimed the King of Israel, 'has the Lord called us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?' But Jehoshaphat asked, 'Is there no prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of the Lord through him?' An officer of the King of Israel answered, 'Elisha, son of Shaphat, is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.'"

Now, that's kind of a phrase looking down on Elisha. Kind of like, Elisha used to pour water on the hands of Elijah. Elijah's this amazing prophet that goes down in history of like, this guy was so awesome, and now we're stuck with kind of his water boy, Elisha. Does that make sense? 'And he's never really said anything yet, and we could go talk to him since we're about to die. I guess it's probably one thing we should do before we just all die in the desert. Maybe we should go see what he has to say. Kind of a very interesting way of handling it.'

So Jehoshaphat said in verse 12, "The word of the Lord is with him." So Jehoshaphat actually speaks up for him. "So the King of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, and the King of Edom went down to him." These three kings decide, hey, we are at the brink of losing our entire army, let's go talk to him. They decide to talk to this water boy, and Elisha comes out.

Now realize before we go any further, these three kings hold life and death in their hands for Elisha. Okay? They are the authority, they are to be honored, and so they had the power to kill him if they wanted. Here's what Elisha said. "Elisha said to the King of Israel, 'What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.'" Elisha's like, what do you want? You haven't called on me in all this time, and now you knock on my door? Now you want to know what I think? You found yourself seven days into this battle. You've partnered with other kings. You've done all this. Now you want to know?

And don't we, in a sense, do this? Luckily, we know God responds very differently when we come to Him. But there is this reality that we find ourselves in these places and we come and we're like, God, please, I messed up. I'm in a tough spot. I'm in a jam now. I found myself in this place that I never thought I would be in. Because, yes, I wasn't listening or following You.

So typical kingly protocol would have been to include the prophet before the battle. That's the typical protocol that you go to the prophet before you make these kinds of decisions. You get insight that might be very important to the battle. But here, the prophet is brought in when everything turned bad, to the extent that people are about to die.

"'No,' the King of Israel answered, 'because it was the Lord who called us three kings together to hand us over to Moab.' Elisha said, 'As surely as the Lord almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you.'" Whoo! He was saying, I respect one of the three kings that around, that are at my door, and if it wasn't for this one king being here, I wouldn't even look at you or notice you. This is like a big deal. And this King of Israel is claiming that the Lord called them together and Elisha seems to be taking issue with that. He's like, well, if the Lord called you together, then you missed the prophet part of that call. Because at this point in history, that's how God spoke to the nation.

So he disrespects these kings, and the interesting thing to note is that it seems like these armies should've been able to win this battle very easily. You combined three kingdoms, you're taking over what we think to be is a pretty small, maybe not insignificant, but they should've been able to handle their business pretty quickly. This should've been an easy win. You might say the odds were overwhelmingly in their favor to win, but here they are, thirsty in the desert, begging a prophet to intervene on their behalf.

How does this translate to us, just this portion? Look, I know you're handsome, I know you're pretty, I know you're smart, I know you're funny, you can make people laugh, I know you might be wealthy, you might be talented, you might even be powerful, you can do a lot. But here's the deal: Only God can send the rain. Only God can provide fully for our every need. Only God can deliver us. Only God can give us freedom. We cannot glorify God if we live life like we are in full control. Let me say that again: We cannot glorify God if we live our life like we are fully in control. Like so self-centered that we say the universe revolves around me, and this is how God wants the universe to revolve.

Now, back to Elisha. The armies are thirsty, the kings are looking for an answer, and here's Elisha's amazing response. "But now, bring me a harpist." What? God wants background music! What is happening? This is a matter of life and death, there's no water, and Elisha's like, hey, bring me the harpist.

Now, imagine you come to my office, okay? I'm on the second floor at The Rail, which is our building where our offices are and where our community center is. If you come up to my office on the second floor of The Rail, you'll see a record player because I love listening to records. Okay? So you should come to my office sometimes, we could listen to a record together. Anyway, now, you walk in, tears in your eyes, because someone really close to you got diagnosed with cancer. And I say, "Bring me a record." You're gonna bring me a record and slap me over the head with it, right? Like, what is going on? Why is he saying bring me the harpist? Are you serious?

Well, what we find is that some prophets would call on musicians to prophesy. They would have this background music while they prophesied. Very interesting. In 1 Chronicles 25 and 1 Samuel 10, we see this. I wonder why this is, and I think one of the answers might be that like music has this power to it, right? Many of you who have come to The Bridge, one of the reasons we hear over and over again that you found The Bridge or that you enjoy The Bridge is because of our music, which by the way today I think is amazing. And what we've found is like there's this connection that music provides. You know, I edit movies sometimes, and one thing I've noticed is that when you edit a movie, let's say even just pictures that are panning to the right or left, and you throw that music behind it, oh, it makes all the difference.

How many of you guys remember the Extreme Home Makeover show with Ty Pennington? Anyone remember this? Where he's like, "Move that bus!" Right? And then the bus moves and like {sobbing}. And you're like snotting. It's not just a normal cry, it's like a snot cry. You know those ones? But anyway, and here's the deal, if you want to, I'm sure they're on Hulu or Netflix or something, go watch those. And the moment he says move that bus, hit mute and see if you have the same reaction. I bet you don't. I bet you don't because music is moving. And what usually happens right after he says move that bus is some inspirational music fires while you start seeing the home and how they redid all this awesome stuff.

Music moves us; it inspires us. Even brings about waterworks. You know what I mean? And here, music is even in this background that deeply moves Elisha to connect with God. Here's what it says. "While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha, and he said, 'This is what the Lord says.'"

Now pause; we're not going to say it yet. I want you to think, though. These kings had to trust Elisha. They had to trust the process. Because it could be very easy for these kings to say, 'Waste of time. You're not getting the harpist. Waste of time. Why are you making us go through all this? We've got people that are so thirsty in the desert right now.' And here's what he says in verse 16b, "Make this valley full of ditches."

{As kings} 'Oh! Oh, great! So now, now you want us to dig! Okay, we have a dehydrated army that hasn't drank water for probably like 4 days. Maybe longer. And you want us to do manual labor! Sounds good.' Right? This is me at like 3 p.m. the day my dad turns around. This can't be a good thing to tell your army as a king. 'Hey, guys, we've got all these shovels. You're gonna start digging now.' And so this is the first prophecy from Elisha. Think about that. The first prophecy from Elisha. 'Hey, get me a harpist. Go ahead and start digging.'

This requires a little bit of trust, and here's how he explains it. "For this is what the Lord says. 'You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water. And you, your cattle, and your other animals will drink.'" This is such a great one. This is such an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord. I'm going to repeat that. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord. "He will also hand Moab over to you. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones."

These are kings going into battle. And we all have battles, right? Each and every one of us have struggles in our life, and it's a battle to believe that God is calling you into a new and good place that you can't see yet. Or that you don't see how that's going to work, how that's going to work out. But God doesn't always just send the rain, send the blessing, send the water that we need in this moment. He sometimes says, 'Pick up the shovel. Grab a shovel. I want you to partner with Me. Start digging.'

I can remember a time I just finished my freshman year of college. And at this time, it was made aware to me that there was an opening at this small, little Southern Baptist church for a part-time youth pastor position. So before I left for summer, I interviewed for the position, got to know a little bit about it. The youth group had four kids. Four kids, yes. Josh, Anna, Miles, and Sarah. Yep. And they were willing to pay me just enough to cover my gas costs for the 30-minute stretch from campus to the church and back twice a week. Our youth group budget was $200 for the whole year. I realized really quickly like this was more like a babysitter position than a youth pastor position.

But I can't blame them. I was young and naive. I can't even believe they allowed me to interview, let alone eventually actually considered me for the job, and gave me the job. And I came back my sophomore year to take this job as this youth pastor. When I thought about it, when I was considering this job, in my head I said, 'It's my sophomore year. I need to be having fun, not being a pretend youth pastor.' Because that's what I felt like. I was like, this is like a pretend youth pastor. Can we just be honest? Like four kids. I could get four kids just by going and hanging out some random place. Like I could get more than that together around a picnic table.

So I'm telling my mind that there's only four kids. Only four kids. Just don't do that. I'm not even going to make money off this job. I was actually hoping I might make money off a job. I'm going to pay gas. That's all I'm going to do for this job. And then I was like, I don't want to be a babysitter! I'm the oldest of five. I've babysitted enough kids. This is literally going to be like babysitting my four younger brothers and sisters {chuckles}, which is what I grew up with.

So I'm sitting here, all these reasons, and I was like, something about, something about I just felt God whispering, 'Do it. Do it. It's gonna be good. Do it.' And I was like, I don't want to do this. I don't want to start digging this. Like this just doesn't look like it's life-giving in any way.

Three things I remember about ditch digging in this regard. Digging a ditch is not glamorous work. It's not glamorous work. Not only is it hard, but it's going to be frustrating at times. It's dirty work. It can be altogether difficult to get out of bed in the morning to commit to what God might be calling you to, to be motivated, to keep going. You can feel like everyone is overlooking what you're doing. You can feel completely unimportant while you're digging the ditch. You can feel incredibly dehydrated in just life in general.

And there are lies that we can allow ourselves to believe while we're digging. Here's a couple of them. These lies might be our pride trying to convince us that we are better than what we're doing right now. I'm better than this. I'm better than a youth pastor of four kids that's a sophomore who really knows nothing. Like nothing. But I'm better than this. Or it can be lies of shame that try to tell us you're not good enough for this. You've made too many mistakes for this. So how do we block out that noise so that we can keep digging? I found that I had to push through some of that pain.

Number two: Digging a ditch requires sacrifice. I sacrificed a lot of my sophomore and junior year at this small, little church in Big Island, Virginia. I missed parties that my friends threw. I remember missing pickup football and basketball games that I really wanted to go play in with my friends. Intramural sports that I couldn't be involved in because they happened at the times I had to be at the church. I remember times of feeling disconnected because I was working and going to school, and sometimes it meant I was on my computer working on my message. So when my friends would pop in and say, hey, let's go do something, I'd have to say I can't. I got church tomorrow, and like I'm in charge of stuff. I have leadership responsibilities. Yeah, I know, it's a drag. You know? And so I sacrificed even part of my college life because of this.

Number three: Digging a ditch is more about God than you. We literally had four regular youth group kids when I came into this church. And God has granted me a great relationship with each and every one of these students. I've stayed connected to these four students. Josh is dating Ali and they're doing awesome. Sarah graduated with her master's degree of education from VCU. Anna served as a youth pastor for awhile, and she got married and went through a difficult season of losing a child. In February, she gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Melody, and Brittney and I got to celebrate with her and Matt. Now we're actually closer because she lives in Virginia, Brittney actually went down for a weekend and visited her. This is a picture of my friend, my former student Miles. Miles and his wife Hannah and their two baby boys, Gideon and Judah. Miles is going into ministry as a youth pastor. We actually talked last month about just all the stuff he's going through as he's looking for a job as a youth pastor.

And I guess I would say God gave me lasting relationships with these students because I was willing to grab a shovel. I was willing to grab a shovel, and God brought the rain. I could've never seen that I would have lasting relationships with these students. I would never see that I would actually be an influence in their life in any meaningful way, but God brought the rain.

After I was there about nine months, we decided to do a lock-in. Okay? Because the students when I asked them 'What do you want to do as an event?' they said, 'Let's do a lock-in!' I'm like, 'You mean me and the four of you like a sleepover is what you mean. Like, what do you mean a lock-in?' I thought it was kind of funny. And so these four kids and I, they were like, 'Hey, we're going to do invites,' and I was like, sweet, man. If we can double the size of our youth group in one night, we'll have eight kids here. It'll be crazy! So, 100% growth. I'm going to write that in the yearly end report. You know what I mean? And so they're like, 'Our goal's 20.' I'm like, 'Whoa, okay, awesome, rock and roll.' 'We're going to invite kids from our school, we're going to do this.'

So I go to my dorm and my sister dorm, and I'm like, 'Hey, guys, you want to come help?' So we get some volunteers from my dorm, from my sister dorm, and we're getting all these people here. And so we have five guys from my dorm, a few from my sister dorm, we have our one parent volunteer. {chuckles} You know {laughs}, we have all of these people ready, and here's the deal. When you have a youth group of four kids, you don't do pre-registration for events. You just wait and see who shows up because there's not a whole lot to plan. And so, we didn't do any pre-registration, and like, somewhere along the line at 7 o'clock, we start seeing kids just roll in. And like, we ended up counting somewhere in the 70s of kids. And so I'm sitting here like, what?! I just took a position and started digging, and nine months in, we've got 70 kids at a lock-in where I am at 1 a.m. in the morning sharing the gospel with 70 kids. That is nothing I could've done on my own, but I had to be willing to grab a shovel and start digging, and God blessed me richly because of that. God supplied the water.

See, some of you are like, God, why aren't you doing amazing things through me? I sense this thing inside me that's telling me that You want to use me in a powerful and amazing way. I feel this call. And maybe God's saying, I've been telling you to grab a shovel, and you're like, no, that's insignificant. That's not important. That doesn't seem like it's going to do anything amazing for me right now. No. God's saying, 'Show up with the shovel. Start digging. And trust Me, I will show up. I will show up.' God wants to put you to work for His kingdom right now. But not on our own. It's built on our relationship with Him.

So here's a few practical things we can do, and this has just been helpful for me as I've kind of thought about this in my own life, some things that I can do regularly. Dig ditches of prayer. Prayer is so important. Prayer is the thing that connects us to God. So we seek God in prayer; in our prayers we're seeking God. We're also getting outside of ourselves because we might be praying for someone else. We might be thinking about and focusing our thoughts on someone in need. And so in this time we communicate to God, we maybe are seeking His will, what shovel do You want me to grab? Because I have like five options in front of me, and I don't know where to start, so God lead me, guide me, show me which way you would have me go. And so we pray regularly.

Digging ditches of hospitality. How do we remain open? Okay? And think of this, open meaning like open to the relationships that God sits right in front of us, right in our path. I had to be open to the relationship of these four students. Most often, God will use relationships to bless us. See, we live in a culture that says you get your blessing from material possessions. And don't get me wrong, material possessions can definitely be a blessing. But most often, it seems God blesses through a relationship that encourages us, that is there for us, and in a season where we deeply need it. And so we have the opportunity to be aware of the relationships that come our way, the people that come our way, and we're open to that. When we're not hospitable to the people around us, we're not open to what God may be seeking to do through us.

Because here's the deal. I served those kids for those two years, this small group of kids, in so many ways. Some of them were in high school, some were in junior high. I remember, like, the break-up season where girls go through the season where they break up and they cry. And I'm like 19-20, and I'm like I don't know what to do if my own girlfriend's doing this, let alone what to do when a student's doing this. I'm here, what do you need? You know? And I was just there and trying to be hospitable in every way I could through the life of junior high and high schoolers. Like when Miles shot up from like 5'-7" and next time I saw him he was like 6'-1" and he was taller than me, and he was like {deep voice} 'I don't know what's happening. My voice is changing.' Like, you know? And I'm like, what's up, Miles? You can play basketball now. And so I was there through all of these things with these students, and I was just present and serving them and hospitable to them. And that takes us to our next one.

Digging ditches of service. We're called to serve. Jesus shares this amazing story of sheep and goats, and it's the story where He says one of the most primary things, markings of a follower of Christ is to serve those who are oppressed. And so this is a ditch that offers a blessing to you when you serve those who are at the margins. So nearly every time I've served someone at the margins, I've found that it's not as much about what I'm blessing them with, as much as maybe I'm serving them from a position of privilege, but it's about what serving them does within me. And so there's this picture that God is actually filling me up. It's almost like I'm digging a ditch inside of myself that only through serving someone else, God can pour this into me. Only through that can that happen. And so are we awake to these opportunities and are we looking at the ground right here, right in front of us, that needs to be shoveled?

So here's how the story ends. And this is so important. They followed the instructions of the prophet. Not only to get the harpist, which took faith probably, because they had to wait on him. He had to tune the harp. And then...I'm just kidding. And then he didn't have an iPad app to do that. So then they were like, okay, we've got to get all these shovels and start digging in this valley, and so they were patient to that, and not only patient but trusting. Because you've got dehydrated people, the last thing to have them do is to start digging and doing manual labor, but they do it. Here's what it says in verse 20. "The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was...water flowing from the direction of Edom, and the land was filled with water."

I want you to notice something. The land was filled with water. Why was the land filled with water? Because they dug. If they hadn't have dug, it just would've gone right over the land. Think about that. Think about that for a minute. It's a paradox. God's blessing, but we are a part of it. And so we can't send the rain, only God can, but we can prepare when He calls us.

One of the things that The Bridge leadership has been talking a lot about this year is our best days are ahead of us. And just to make very clear, this isn't in any way a knock of our past. We love the rich history of The Bridge. This is a belief that we are digging ditches right now that God is going to bless in amazing ways. And so we invite you to start digging in your own life and to start proclaiming over your own life, my best days are ahead of me because God is going to bless the things I'm digging right now as I'm faithful to Him. Even in the small things, the things that might seem so insignificant, and we invite you to start saying as attenders of The Bridge, proclaiming over this space, that our best days are ahead of us. Because as we partner with God, even through the very difficult job of digging a ditch, because it is difficult, I remember. If you were to channel 14-year-old Justin up here right now, he could give you an hour's worth of moaning and sobbing about how hard it is to dig. And if you were to channel even 20-year-old Justin up here, he could tell you about all the things he had to give up to serve these four students. But one thing you can't get is any Justin after those times that would tell you I wouldn't have done it. Because it plays a role. It opened me up. That digging allowed for the blessing to flow and to be kept. These relationships are things I would never sacrifice. The rain is coming, the blessings are falling, sometimes where you least expect it, so may you dig even when you're tired, even when it may seem hopeless, and even when you're weary, and may you find your valley full of water and blessings. Let's pray.

Good and gracious God, we are so thankful that You call us to participate with You in this world, that You call us to serve others, that you call us to even get outside of our own sphere, that You call us to get outside of ourselves to see a world around us in need, to see people that are oppressed, people that we can serve, that we can love. Lord, serving and getting outside of ourselves and digging ditches, it's not glamorous, it requires sacrifice, and ultimately it's all about You. It's all about how You have the power when we partner with You to fill up us in the process and the person we're serving. Lord, we just today ask that You remind us to pray, to seek You in all that we do, to seek to strengthen our relationship in You. We pray You would align our hearts to be more hospitable, that when we see people in need we think first of how we can best serve them, how we can reach out to them. Lord, sustain us, because it's difficult at times. We might believe the lie that we're not good enough, or we might believe the lie that what we're doing is useless. Show us the use that it has, and show us Your grace and Your love for us, that You have redeemed us, that we're a new creation in You. Give us life. Show us the opportunities that are right in front of our face right now, and allow us to say yes. In the name of Jesus, amen.