Sunday, March 20, 2011

College-the God Way

There are a few things in college that just come accepted: lack of sleep, money deficiency, eating weird things in the fridge that might be expired, pizza, late nights, friends, change, COFFEE, and stress (loads of it). Some of these things are great, a few other things, whew boy they SUCK. Stress being the biggest one, but what does college look like for the one dependent on the Lord?

It seems to me, that the answer is one of submission, sacrifice, and letting go. Submission to His Will, His Plan, and His Desires for our lives (which I guarantee will grant you the desires of your heart); Sacrifice of Our Plans, and Will, as well as friends, money, and maybe comfort; Letting Go of our stress, brokenness, hurt, and "rights" given to us here on Earth (right to our time, right to good service, right to friendship, etc). You see, the decisions we make in the present have two outcomes: they draw you closer to God, or they take you away (apathy ie non-growth is an example of being taken away).

The week before Spring Break was full of stress, loads of it. But with stress, it's crazy to see how when you give it up to the Lord you feel instantly closer to Him. It's like when you admit you're stressed to a good friend and they take you in their arms, wrapped all the way around your body and just squeeze you tight letting you know everything is going to be okay. When we admit our stress to the Lord we take away the walls and the false perceptions that it doesn't exist or that we can handle it and He pulls us into a close hug, one that tells us things are going to be okay. And we relax, our shoulders, they loose their tense strain and a sigh of breathe escapes from our mouths. God, the Creator of the World, the Stars, Laughter, Happiness, and Joy takes us in His Arms and says, "I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (Isaiah 46:4). Can you imagine The God of The Universe, the One who has, "measured the waters in the hollow of His Hand and with the breadth of His Hand marked off the heavens" (Isaiah 40:12), whispering this into your ear as you give up your control and let Him hold You tight, let Him say to you, "'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28). This is true of Brokenness, Pain, Hurt, Sin, etc. God is faithful in His Response through all of it!


Ears, God made two of them. Maybe, He made two for the very reason that we are to listen to Him above for our security and our identity, and then to those around us as an act of love. That's what I walked away with from this past week sharing my faith in Panama City Beach, Florida with Campus Crusade during Big Break. Now, if any of you are aware of Panama City Beach (PCB) then you understand that it is party-central for most college students and even some high schoolers during Spring Break. Everyone is drinking alcohol and walking around in skimpy clothing; it's what the youth of America loves.

This week we learned about listening intently, not planning the next question or statement, but sincerely taking an interest in others lives and showing them the Love that their Creator has for them. I had conversations like no other with these party-ers and I loved every second of them. I had the blessing of leading a beautiful middle school girl named Hannah to Christ, watched my ex-roommate come to Christ, and was able to share the Gospel in its original format, saturated with Love, Interest, and Desire to know the other person, with so many people on that beach. I could not believe how incredibly fruitful ministry can be when the intent is solely to Love another.

When we went out, we didn't go with the intention to force the Gospel, but simply to listen, to take an interest, to show those out there that we care about their lives, their existence, and that there was a God out there who paid attention to them a gazillion times more than we ever could. It was BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING, OUTSTANDING, to simply care for those out there. When's the last time that we looked at the strangers around our campus and sincerely took an interest in their lives, in their eternal destination? When have we looked into the eyes of those passing by us and wondered what they thought about God, and how they've been hurt? When's the last time we've even CARED for the lost and broken, not even LOVED them, but just cared? As the atheist Penn says, "How much do we have to hate someone to sincerely believe that they are going to hell for not believing in Christ and then not sharing that with them?"

Now, that we've got one ear explained, the other comes into play, the one listening to the Lord for our security and for Truth. We cannot let the lies that Satan plants in our minds take hold of our lives and rule them. Lies that we don't know enough about Christianity to share the Gospel and share our faith. As long as we know the Love of the Lord and have the Holy Spirit leading, we can say no wrong words. We plant the seed and water it, but God is the One who Grows it. Lies that we do not matter or are too small to make a difference, or lies that our reputations are on the line. People are grateful to us for sharing our Father's Love, now some are not, but most are. After all, who hates having a Loving person sit down with them and intently pay attention to their lives and their hurt, pain, and brokenness?

People, I pray that our hearts will be awakened to the Lost, to the Broken, to the Sick who need Healing. I pray that our desires will be driven towards getting to know others, not trying to convert others. With true Love comes the desire for them to celebrate with you forever in Heaven, for them to know God and to give their reigns to Christ, because we know that wholeness and complete satisfaction only comes from the One who Created us! I pray that we are bold in our Love, strong in our Passion, faithful in our Calling, and fruitful in our Sharing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shadow Walking

Around midnight, a brisk 45 degrees, clothed in jeans, cut-off rainboots, double jacket, and rainbow beanie. Upon the back a guitar and backpack filled with school books, camera, notebooks, and Bible. The streets lit with a dim glow of mystery and cars whiz by leaving behind breezes to move hair and thoughts. A window slams shut, car alarm goes off, voices yell, and "city" noises envelop the air. I breathe in a fresh breath, and lay my foot in front of the other, time and time again.

I wandered home tonight (and in my opinion that's the best way to do it) and I talked out loud (yes, like a looney) with the Lord. And as I walked I looked down, I watched my shadow, I watched as it moved, I looked at the guitar as it bobbed above my head and I noticed the new curves in my thighs (those cursed dining courts...=]) and you know what I didn't notice...everything. My campus, with all the life it's filled with come nighttime silence remained unnoticed for good stretches of my journey, the lives that walked past me remained unthought of, and the nature that screamed out in unspoken languages remained uninterpreted.

How often do we wander through our life focused on our shadow? Focused on our own brokenness, our own faults, our own vices and stumbling blocks, how often do we miss everything? You see, God gave His Son not just for us, but for the person we jostle on the street corner, the person we drive past when commuting, the person we sit near in class. You see, God made the World, everything in it with His Hands and called it good. You see, God has eyes for these people, this world, and this hurt. So often, we look to our shadow and ask God to fix the brokenness, the sin, the temptation, and the hurt and we lose sight of God's beauty, strength, love, grace, renewal, hope, redemption, and compassion so embedded in the world and relationships around us.

Now, I am NOT saying that understanding and seeing our brokenness and vices is not important, because to not know what our sin is, is to let Satan have a ledge, not just a foothold. But what I am saying is that as we pour ourselves out to those around us, as we worship God in His Creation, and as we look outside of ourselves, we understand what it means to be glorifying God, to be dying to self. As we pour out, we begin to understand what it means to be poured into. As we feel for this World, we begin to understand how God feels for us. As we love, we begin to understand what it means to be loved. As we bring healing to others, we begin to understand what it means to be healed.

You want to know what I'm grateful for in my wander home tonight? I looked up before it was too late to see what was around. I encourage you, look up, notice the world, pour out as God pours in, love as You've been loved. Don't wait until you are that grown, matured, and ready Christian to jump into this world and the ministry it is in desperate need of. Jump in and see how you grow because of it.