Positioned in a hard plastic chair, perched up high to reach the table, the craft time begins. Reaching for little strips of colored construction paper, little people line up supplies. Growing fingers grabbing and stacking, sorting and planning. Finding the glue, or stapler, or tape, it begins. Busy fingers looping paper into a larger plan.
You remember? Don’t you? Those strips get linked together one by one, intertwined and lovely. Quicker than we imagined that chain becomes a long, flowing ribbon of loopy beauty. Off the table, dangling down to the floor. What was once a bunch of isolated strips of scrap paper, seemingly useless, becomes an impressive display of connectedness. Something we made with our fingers. Something that made us smile when we realized it was bigger than any one piece of paper. Something that held a piece of our heart.
Have you ever mentioned in conversation that nothing happens by accident? Are you a firm believer that there are no coincidences in life? Yes? Me too. God is in the details. He cares for the sparrows and the lilies of the field. He cares exponentially more for you! Deeply. Daily.
The Father cares so deeply that He wants to surround you with people and experiences that bring you encouragement and joy. He intentionally, continuously, surrounds us with people who bring us closer to Jesus, and closer to the design He has had for our lives all along.
Who are the people, throughout the story of your life, who planted seeds?
God has provided abundantly, in all our lives. Creatively. He provides someone to hold the umbrella over our head when the deluge begins. A friend who will sit with us in our darkest moments. A fellow follower who will speak truth, lead us to the truth of Jesus that will bring us hope and life. A friend who will show us that the Holy Spirit is not only with us, but loves us deeply, actively, today. People who lead us to the cross, in spite of themselves and their own sins, hang-ups and hindrances.
Seeds planted. Encouragement spoken. Life extended.
Fellow travelers, walking down the same path, gravel crunching under our feet.
All headed in the same direction, closer to Jesus. Some running. Some limping. Some speedwalking, and some searching for an Uber. Don’t forget that one guy who decides to try a unicycle or pogo stick. Bless his heart. All headed to the feet of Jesus. One step at a time.
Think about that paper chain. Imagine each loop is a person on your mental list of seed planters. Who are the people who walked with you at any given time? Maybe today is the day of paper strips and staples or tape. Make a mess. Have fun. Set aside a few minutes or hours in the midst of the rush of daily life, and make a paper chain.
A paper chain of praise.
Stack those strips on the table, and ask the Lord to show you who He has used to speak into your life and lead you closer to Him. Now, write those names out. One on each strip. Grab the stapler or tape and get to work! Link each chain together.
I imagine surprise happens in a few directions here. The number of people that you include may be unexpected at first thought. See, when we add the single serving interaction along with the lifelong friends, those names add up. Some strips may be quite vague. Like, you know, that girl at camp. Or that server at that restaurant in Somewhere, Idaho. That’s the beauty of God’s impact on a life. The girl and the server are right next to the Sunday school teacher and praying best friend. They all make the chain. All. Write them all down. Grab some more paper and keep going. I’ll wait.
Ok, so you’ve hopefully got a chain of paper loops billowing like rolling waves all around your chair. Take it all in. God’s love for you is more than you ever imagined, and I assure you there are names you didn’t even know to write. But God did. He knows. Praise Him for each one, even the ones you don’t remember. Once your chain is done, understand it is far from finished. God will continue to add people and reasons to praise to your life. From now until eternity.
Take that chain and stretch it out. Pull it across the living room, into the hall. Maybe you might even be bold enough to hang it along the wall or something. Or, save it for the Christmas tree. Now, there’s a garland worthy of the King.
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