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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Poke, Prod, and Progress

Sometimes I can be thick headed. OK….more than sometimes. I’m human. Admit it…you relate. Lately I’ve been sensing God poking me before He has to get out the cattle prod. And it leads to His progress in my life.

This time last year I became exposed to, challenged by, gripped by, and driven to help with the Ragamuffin movie screening tour ( I’ve met INCREDIBLE people along the way, went on a retreat that has TOTALLY turned over the tables in my life (to quote my pastor last week- “sometimes love turns over some tables”), and have been now poked by God to take things yet another step further with this crazy Ragamuffin movement… which has taken on a life of its own.

I wish it was as neat as that last paragraph. That makes it sounds like I have ears to hear. Let me give a better glimpse.

Last year when the movie came out I was able to help find a venue for the movie screening in Columbus, OH. I had met a pastor through a Petra concert the previous November (2013) and on a long shot wrote him and asked if his church would be interested in hosting the movie….not knowing the pastor went to college with Rich and there were Rich Mullins connections with folks at the church. Needless to say the date was secured and I was buying tickets and bringing Mom, who also bought tickets for her pastors. We had a group of 10 of us there.

God just dealt with me in indescribable ways and I was enamored by the movie – captivated – driven. Some would say almost obsessed. I wanted to find other places the movie could show because I believed so strongly in the message. While my efforts did not yield other venues due to tight timing, it ended up being more about what God was doing in me through it all.

The movie was released and next thing we knew they (the producers) were putting together a retreat experience simply called Ragamuffin Retreats. I had already said if a retreat was close enough I would go. I had scheduled a vacation to Nashville and then….the retreat schedule was released. Here’s where the ‘prod’ parts starts. I sat on the edge for a good month before I committed to the retreat. While I SAID I’d go I was finding all kinds of objections to going. But the thought wouldn’t go away and God ultimately poked me and prodded me until I finally kept my word – which was what He wanted. He wanted me there.

The effects of the retreat and what God did in my life are well documented in this blog. Those lessons continue to be applied in the tough areas of my life. As I recently described it, the retreat was easy compared to what I’m dealing with now…the retreat pulled off the scabs and now we’re digging out the infection.

So fast forward to the last couple months. Remember a foundation of  Ragamuffin had been laid – from the screening tour to the retreat…and now there was another step. Mom’s church had wanted to host a screening but the timing didn’t work out. Her pastor was so touched by the movie he shared about it during the service the next day. I had had the ‘thought’ of seeing if the church still wanted to host a screening but hadn’t moved on it. There were all kinds of rational objections. But the thought wouldn’t go away. The poking and prodding became progress when, in early December, I approached a couple friends from the retreat about doing a screening. It was met with favorable feedback so I took the plunge and next thing you know we’re moving forward with it.

And now this ‘prodding’ is moving to another level. Remember – first it was being enamored with the movie and wanting to help others see it, then it was the retreat though I drug my feet. Then it was the additional movie screening. And now it’s about more.

God has been putting another ‘hairbrain’ idea in my head…another of those ‘can’t get it out of my head’ things…like the movie screening tour, then the retreat, then the movie at Mom’s church. He kind of deals with me like that – He puts an idea in my head and it just won’t go away. It’s just a matter of how long it takes me to cooperate!

But this time it still took a little time to cooperate. Someone from the retreat was sponsoring a Mitch McVicker concert at her church. When I saw the announcement late last year I thought ‘that would be cool…wonder what it takes to bring him in.’ But that’s as far as it went. Until this week…2 months later. Mitch posted his concert schedule for the first part of 2015 and lo and behold he’s coming to town. I was ecstatic! I communicated with him my excitement and wanting to help get the word out about the concert and in passing mentioned my previous thoughts about what it would take to bring him in, not thinking much about it. Until Mitch thought a LOT about it! He initiated the conversation, sent me some requested information, and three days later it’s becoming a focused point of thought and conversation. But it’s not just about bringing in a concert. It’s about something more. It’s about doing something in an ongoing way.

I have some ideas. I’m starting to share them with some folks. It’s incredibly exciting for me. This kind of stuff comes very natural for me. It already feels like it’s picking up steam…and absolutely NOTHING is in place in an organized way. But I’m quickly learning that doesn’t matter. If GOD wants this to happen it won’t matter how fast or slowly some structure comes together. And ‘this’ is a lot larger than one little event!

So what’s my point? It’s simply this: how does God speak to you? How do you know when God is wanting your attention and has a mission for you? For me it’s often through a thought or idea that just won’t go away. It cloaks itself like a ‘passing thought’ but as soon as I finally DO something about it (aka: obey) the ball keeps rolling and it gets bigger…and takes on a life of its own. I kick myself for taking so long in acting on things….under the guise of ‘that’s just my wishful thinking – some day’ or ‘there’s no way that could happen because _____’ and every other rational reason to not follow God’s promptings.

But now…I’m starting to step out in faith a little easier. I’m getting a little bolder in sharing the ideas in my head. And crazy things happen. The way I used to hear from God is getting clear again. The ‘OK – this is going to happen’ thoughts come quickly as soon as I take one little step in the direction God is poking me. And as I tell folks about it…they get excited….and some think I’m crazy and others don’t understand how I can step out and take the next step not knowing IF things will happen or WHERE it will lead…and be EXCITED about that!

How does God speak to you? How many times does it take for Him to get through to you about something? What objections do you allow to get in the way of having a risky faith? What gets in the way of God using you in ways you don’t expect?

Those are the things I’m starting to learn. Maybe it’s part of being a ragamuffin – of just going for it and not being concerned about the opinions and approval of others. Or maybe, in my case, it’s just about not putting God in a box and going along for a crazy ride…and taking anyone with me who wants to come. God has poked, He has prodded, and hopefully now….He’s seeing some progress in His plan in my life. I have NO idea where this will lead. The thoughts are pretty wild and bold and big and challenging and exciting! I have no idea who will join me. I just know God has put a crazy big idea in my head and it won’t go away. And I think I know what that means.

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