…So much has happened in the past five months. I wish I hadn’t neglected this thing for so long so I could look back on everything, but I haven’t and am not going to recap that time here! I’ve sat here for an hour thinking over everything that’s happened in my life over those five months, and I think it all comes down to this: I’m an idiot and I need Jesus desperately.
So there’s this prayer I’ve prayed for a really long time… at least since the time I decided that I wanted to work for Young Life one day. And it always went something like this; “God, I want to go to the hardest place imaginable. I want to be challenged, I want to be broken, I want to despair of life, I want to be tested and stripped of every comfort I have. Make it happen.” About three or four months ago I really started to regret ever praying that stupid prayer!
I don’t really think this is the hardest place imaginable, but I will say that I have experienced challenge, brokenness, and dependence on God more than I ever have in my life. And it wasn’t easy… I’ve definitely experienced my lowest of lows since moving to Gastonia – duking it out with God, battling with trust and wondering if he really knows what he’s doing. I mean, I moved down here with a plan – and it was a great plan if you ask me. Kids were going to fall down and praise Jesus’ name shortly after I said hi to them and accepted their camp deposits, people were going to be writing me $10,000 checks left and right, hundreds of college students were going to be lining up to be leaders in Gaston County, Denny Rydeberg was going to respectfully resign as president of Young Life and offer me his position (to which I would politely decline and continue in Gaston County), and I was going to be a Young Life All Star. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly what’s happened, but God has certainly showed up.
After getting a little taste of what hardship really feels like, I think I’ve realized why God has put me into a hard situation – but certainly not the hardest one I could imagine… I couldn’t handle it. I’m not nearly as tough as I thought I was. I’ve realized in just about every possible way that I’m not nearly as _______ (insert any good quality you’d think of to ascribe to yourself) as I thought I was. Not nearly as smart, good, ready, etc. Instead, I’ve realized just the opposite. I’m not smart – I’m an idiot, I’m not good – I’m awful, and I’m not ready – I have no idea what I’m doing.
Coming to a realization of these things wasn’t so easy on the ego… Which is good because that stupid thing needed to die. Not that it has died… as much as I wish it weren’t true I’m still an arrogant idiot. But it has been wounded, the ego that is, and I can’t walk in it too long any more without noticing that I’m walking with a limp.
It makes me think of the story of the women caught in adultery. Jesus delivers the famous line, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” After he said that those who heard began to walk away one by one, the older ones first. Anyone who is familiar with the story knows that it was the older ones who walk away first because they were wiser, more experienced, and probably had a much greater understanding of how sinful they really were, whereas the younger ones were filled with pride and a youthful ignorance… I’m still not sure I’d be the first guy to make a bee line for the door when Jesus said this, but I’ll tell you what, I am grateful to say that I think I’d be prone to move much more quickly than I would have six months ago. And in the end I think that’s what really matters.
Jesus is after me – I can just feel it. He’s attacking me everywhere that I think I’m strong to show me that I am weak. He’s going to all the places where I think I can get by on my own, and showing me that I desperately need Him. I’ve always told people about this relentless God who pursues them at any cost to show them that He loves them and that they need Him… and I feel like I’m finally learning what I’ve been trying to teach all this time.
It’s actually a pretty terrifying thought to think that God is after me… It’s going to mean that things have to change, and change can be rough, especially when you’ve grown accustomed to doing things a certain way for so long. It’ll mean I’ll have to stop doing things that I want to do, and to start doing things that I don’t want to do… I mean, in the end it doesn’t really mean anything has to change. I could very well ignore every inclination of the spirit and continue to do things exactly how I want to… but we all know how that one’s going to end, and I know that it “hurts me to kick against the goads.” Plus I’m not really into masochism, so I think I’ll try and take the big man’s advice on this one. After all, He’s supposed to be the one who knows what’s best for me, right?
I have to say, I’ve probably never felt more freedom in my entire life. There’s just something so beautiful about realizing that you’re nothing but a huge mess of screw up, but that even a huge mess of screw up isn’t too much for God to redeem. It’s just funny that I have to go through so much to constantly be reminded of this. Maybe funny isn’t the best word – it’s more sad than anything. Humanity is so messed up over sin that we have to be punched in the face over and over again and we still don’t get it. We’re like those punching bags you had as a kid…
You’d punch Bozo in the face, he’d lean all the way back to the ground, then he’d pop right back up because all of his weight was in his bottom. He had nothing but air in his head. I feel like that a lot. I keep getting knocked over because I’ve got nothing but air in my head. I continually suppress the truth and bury it down deep in me. I don’t want to be like that anymore. I just really want to get it...