In the run up to the school summer holidays our daughter was able to take part in the special celebrations the Guides were having due to their 100th anniversary. She has been part of Brownies for almost three years now. Her first weekend away with them happened to coincide with my 40th birthday so I endured a weekend of worrying and wondering how she was!
My daughter is so much like me it can be quite scary. Confident, chatty and sociable within circles of people she feels secure with, she becomes a totally different person out of her comfort zone; shy, fearful and so, so quiet. She won't take risks, drawing back into herself to keep safe.
So when it came time for this year's adventure weekend she wasn't sure she wanted to go. I really encouraged her to because it was a special celebration and I didn't want her to miss out (and we had paid a fair amount of money for it!). Well, she totally blew us away with the vigour in which she grabbed hold of every element of the weekend.
Her leader captured her mood brilliantly in a picture that shows her dangling from a harness having just stacked and climbed crates – her face is beaming with a huge smile and she looks like she's full-belly laughing. It was a joy to see – and even better when she said that that was what she had been like all weekend. She commented, "I now know the real girl, the one you've been telling me about all this time."
A few weeks later, the Brownie pack spent a day in Windsor, bungee trampolining and zorbing. Again, I wasn't sure how much she would join in, but apparently it was all brilliant fun and "zorbing was the best"!
Knowing that our daughter grabbed all the opportunities set before her and enjoyed them so much gave us such pleasure. And that's how God responds when we really enjoy something He's invited us to partake in.
Sometimes responding to Him involves taking a step of faith – pushing ourselves to venture outside of our comfort zones just like my daughter did. God doesn't force us to do anything. But when we do the fun that we can have is limitless.
My daughter had another experience of this during our camping trip this summer. We had picked up an early birthday present for her – a new, bigger bike. After a few tentative wobbles and rides she decided she was fine so we set off on a cycling route. Partway round she had quite a spectacular fall. As we wiped down her cut arms and placed plasters on them she announced that she was "never getting back on a bike again".
We had some difficult moments persuading her that the only way back to the campsite was on her bike, but we were so proud when she finally courageously took that step and tentatively got back on. It was wonderful to see her zipping along later that day as we went on another ride. She said she loved cycling and didn't want to get off when we stopped for a snack!
I also think it's when we step outside the box we have made for ourselves that we can truly find who we are. My daughter had set limitations for herself that she had to overcome and then entered into whole other experiences she would have missed otherwise.
We might have a clear idea of the type of person that we are and set boundaries on what we are prepared to do, and yet God sees the whole picture and perhaps knows things about us, ways in which we could soar and things we would gain huge satisfaction from, if only we would simply try.
I think there are times that God watches us, frustrated that we don't seem to want to move forward or step out to the side to a place He is suggesting (I felt a tiny bit of that frustration when my daughter didn't want to get back on her bike!). So often we are too content in our own little neighbourhood, pottering along to the places we go to each day and doing the things we do regularly, and yet there is a whole world out there that He longs to reveal to us.
Do you think that perhaps God wants to take you on a new adventure – give you a new experience? Just think: when you are nudged how easily do you take up the challenge? Or do you simply say "no thank you"?
Where it is that He wants to take you today? Don't you want to find out?!