There was an atmosphere of tense awkwardness. Feet shuffled noisily, people coughed nervously, and nobody said anything. Each person looked around, trying to get a cue from someone else without catching his eye in case he called on them.
This kind of moment is all too common, and its cause is a simple question: what has God been doing in or through you recently?
It's strange how this simple question can illicit such an uncomfortable response in people. In my experience, there's a very simple reason for this; misplaced expectations. When I've been asked this question in the past, my mind has immediately gone into overdrive, trying to remember any earth-shattering encounters I've had with God that week, or casting my mind back over any conversations I've had in case I forgot that I led someone in the sinner's prayer.
When we think about God doing things in and through us, are we limiting ourselves in our expectations by only looking for the big stuff? I'd suggest that we are.
Don't get me wrong, those life-altering moments where God breaks into someone's world are awesome and we are right to celebrate them. However, God works in far more ways than we are always aware, and He's interested in far more of our lives than we sometimes acknowledge.
Being a disciple of Jesus means submitting every area of your life to His lordship. It means allowing God to form you more into the likeness of Jesus daily, in the big things and the small. When you understand this, you know that every situation - every moment - is an opportunity to become more like Jesus.
Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Romans 12:1-2 in The Message translation gives a helpful explanation for us:
'So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.'
Through this lifelong journey of discipleship, the aim is for us to be presented mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28) because we have taken on His character. This happens in big ways, when the Holy Spirit breaks in and in a moment brings transformation. It also happens gradually as the Holy Spirit uses day-to-day moments and situations to transform us from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). If we place our focus only on the big events, we miss out on the small ways God is shaping us and growing us daily, but if we look out for the small degrees of growth we understand that discipleship is an all of life thing and we'll see our ordinary elements of our lives in a new light.
Every day is an opportunity for growth in discipleship. It could come during your daily reading of the Bible; God speaking to you through a particular verse so that you see it differently from how you ever have before. It could be in a conversation with a colleague, where you notice that your language has changed; you no longer say certain things, or you don't engage in gossip the way you used to. It could be an opportunity to share something of your faith story with a friend. They may not fall to their knees in surrender to Jesus, but they were open to the conversation in a way they never have been before and you felt more confident than normal to talk about your faith.
If we're really pedantic about this, we should always have an answer to that question: what is God doing in and through you? The simple fact that you are still breathing today is a gift of His grace! If you're really struggling, maybe that can be your answer; by His grace, God is continually sustaining you in your daily life.
My encouragement to you is to look a little bit closer and see those 'one degree of glory to another' shifts in your everyday life. God is interested - really interested - in even the most mundane aspects of your life. He is active in you and through you all the time; do you have eyes to see it? 'Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin' (Zechariah 4:10).
What is God doing in and through your life today? Whether it's big or small, celebrate it because He is using it to make you more like Jesus today than you were yesterday.
Rev Jack Skett is associate pastor at Elim Church, Selly Oak. He is the author of 'A Better Kind of Intimacy: The Price of Porn and How to Overcome it', published by Instant Apostle. He also blogs on his website, jackskett.co.uk