Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gauntlet 2012

I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to blog about one of the best and worst weeks of my life. Some of you are probably raising your eyebrow, trying to determine how those two could go together. Bear with me, this will probably twist and turn and be long but I’m just going to speak from the bottom of my heart.

I was leery, to say the least, going into this. Missing an entire week of my internship? An entire week of a paycheck? Not get to focus on the very expensive summer class I was taking? Be responsible for three teenage girls? Sleep on the floor? Lead three girls in example and small group when I’m already on a rocky enough road with God? Oh, and I’m PAYING for this? Someone knock me the head, please!

Challenge God to challenge you and he will do it. Brad Cooper said this week “God is a promise maker, AND a promise KEEPER!” Wow, that really resonated with me. I asked God to help me really connect with these girls and I may have gotten more than I bargained for.

Prayer is powerful. I’ve never prayed so hard or desperately to see some things happen. I came across this passage in quiet time one morning during the week: Matthew 18: 19-20 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Imagine most of 2700 people praying for salvations and people to be healed and miracles to happen. You better believe we saw that during the week. I believe in prayer, I believe in sharing your prayer requests. If you ever want me to pray for our about something please let me know. I’d be honored to do it.

I started the first morning off meeting two other leaders who are both engaged. This is important to remember for another blog post I will do. All I could think was dang, Satan really wants my attention.

Right before we stopped for lunch we met our student groups. My initial impression was that it was going to be a quiet week. HA! No. When we got to the hotel we went for a walk on the beach and talked and got to know one another. That night, was the first night Perry spoke back from his sabbatical. Man, did he BRING IT! His message was so convicting, 115 students were saved that night. Including, two of my three girls. You have never felt something quite like that until you see students bawling and holding one another while out loud asking God for his forgiveness. As the students walked out towards the back to meet with someone, Perry made the comment that THIS was why we tithe, why we do church. I’ve really struggled with tithing each week but let me tell you, now I look forward to giving money each week.

If you think the good times stopped there, try again. The daily schedule looked something like this:
-Breakfast/Quiet Time
-Worship/Morning Service with Brad
-Community Groups (students met with students in their same grade to get in smaller groups and discuss the morning service. I had rising twelfth graders. During this time I got to meet other leaders and just relax.)
-Free Time (Couple hours, we did beach two days and nap time and shopping another)
-Worship/Evening Service with Perry
-Small Group
-Small amount of sleep.
-Start Over

Watching 2700 people worship and listen to the message and feel God’s presence was surreal. It was awesome just to watch these kids come to know God and hear his word, for many, the first time ever, especially a message on their level. Over the next few days, the girls came to really share a lot of details of their lives with the group. One of prayers has been to break my heart God, for what breaks yours. He did that. Listening not just to some of my girls but other students stories and the things they have gone through, broke my heart. You know that people go through drug addiction, drinking, parents that don’t parent, inappropriate behaviors, self image problems, etc but until you hear it first-hand, I don’t think you can truly appreciate it.

On Wednesday morning, something awesome happened. I’d really been praying for my one girl that wasn’t saved Monday night. She was very distant during worship, seemed to have no desire to lead group, and didn’t really seem to have a handle on the “Christian thing.” I really felt convicted that God was trying to speak to her but she was running away. On Wednesday morning during service she stood up to accept Christ and I got to lead her in prayer for salvation. Out of all the things we discussed I won’t forget her answer when I asked why she was certain that this is what she should do. She described the feeling of running away and that God wouldn’t let her sit down, she had to stand up. It made me realize, if every time we felt like that, we actually followed God’s plan how much more awesome would God’s glory be? And people say that God isn’t present anymore, that he doesn’t speak to his people anymore. FALSE!

We did testimonies in small group on Wednesday night. I can’t divulge details out of respect for their privacy but I can say, more than ever did I believe in the every number has a name, every name has a story. These girls blew me away from the backgrounds they can from. My heart broke. I felt so much respect for these girls that were trying to climb out of the hole and reach for God. Much of what they said, they had never shared with someone before. Man did I feel privileged.

On Thursday morning, I got to witness over 500 students get baptized. Try not to be jealous, because you should be. Sunrise baptism is possibly one of the coolest things ever. Seeing these students come shivering out of the water, tears streaming down their faces, running towards their friends and leaders screaming and yelling. Then going and worshiping straight on the beach in this amphitheater area. If people didn’t feel God’s presence then, I’m not sure they were even trying to listen.

What did God teach me through all this? Besides some awesome messages from Brad and Perry, a lot.
1.     Never quite learning from those around you. My students taught me more than I thought possible. Especially that it is so important to pour into the younger generations. One of my girls I told would be a great leader. I’ve never seen someone have such a kind sweet heart with the potential to really connect with others around her. She cried because NO ONE HAD EVER told her she could be a leader. Blew my mind.
2.     Everyone has a story, no two stories are alike. You might think you have/had it rough, try again. Everyone has went through life and been dealt obstacles, learn from those around you.
3.     Never quite asking for salvations, never become immune to that amazing experience. We saw 250 salvations. It never got old.
4.     My basically nonexistent quiet time is about to change. Sitting on the beach each morning talking to God and reading his word, yea, I want me some more of that each morning.
5.     I need to do a MUCH more meaningful job of getting people to church. One of my students was there because her friend invited her. If she hadn’t she wouldn’t be there. People don’t just wake up one day and decide they want to go to church. It’s because someone took the time to make them feel special and invite them. I don’t care if you have invited them 500 times, it might take 501 for them to come. Don’t stop believing in them!
6.     My corporate America vision, might not be for me. I’ve never felt so convicted to work with teenagers. I’m still not sure what this looks like, but when I do, I’ll let you know. For right now, it means trying to rearrange my fall schedule so that I can volunteer at Fuse in the fall.
7.     Drinking? For anyone that knows my story they know alcohol is a big thing in my life. I believe that God has called me to step away from alcohol completely. I also think this means after I turn 21. I’m not 100% on this yet, but I have a feeling it will be. It won’t be easy AT ALL. I don’t think it is supposed to be. I think God wants to use it for a testimony to him and a way for me to connect to people. I’d be happy to talk about this anytime as I work through it.
8.     Perry asked what one thing is standing between myself and God. The answer popped into my mind instantly. Control. That means, as a senior in college this year, I will be making no firm plans for my future. I will be praying for God to lead me in the direction he wants me. That doesn’t mean I won’t take the GMAT or do job applications. It means instead of praying to God to put me at P&G or Smuckers, I’m praying to God that he makes it abundantly clear where he wants me, even if that entails getting exactly one job offer to make sure I get the message.

I know this was long, but it wasn’t even half of the story. If you see me, please ask me about it. I needed this week more than many of the students. I needed to get pumped back up for God, I needed to see what God wanted from me, I needed to be shown what I was doing wrong. Be careful what you ask God for, you just might get it.