It’s been a whirlwind two weeks, y’all. Packing, goodbyes, an 11 hour drive, several hours of moving in, more goodbyes, hellos, HoneyRock camp leadership camp, diakonoi training week, more hellos, making new best friends. It’s been a lot different than the first time around; I was so overwhelmed the first time I left for Wheaton. I may be overwhelmed now, but it looks a lot different. And I’m as humbled and grateful and filled with love as I was a year ago. Actually, more so.
I’d love to write about what the Lord’s been teaching me and all I’ve been learning, but I feel like I’m barely forming coherent sentences, much less deep thoughts. But I’ve been so in awe of what He’s doing. Last year, I was blown away by Jesus’ faithfulness in carrying me through difficult circumstances and transitions. Now, I’m sitting in overwhelming gratitude for the ways that He’s poured out such undeserved blessing and grace upon this year. I see how He was moving so powerfully in what was a strange and difficult summer of processing. I see the banner that He’s covered this year with. How He has redeemed my relationships back home and solidified relationships here.
I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed this much in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all Facebook-photo fun. There are some tensions with people. Everyone has their struggles, and baggage, and quirks. But the work of GRACE that Jesus did in my heart this summer has been something of life-preserver as I navigate new waters of deep, intentional community (#wheatonbuzzword). I don’t deserve any of this; I didn’t earn any of this. The only reason I am where I am is 100% of Jesus and His goodness in my life. If He doesn’t empower me with His Spirit, you don’t want to see what comes out. Pride, fear, insecurity, cynicism, judgment – sin. I’m totally dependent on His grace. And I may not be anywhere near where I should be in extending that same love to others, but praise God I’m not where I was at the beginning of the summer!
I’m learning how to see Jesus in other people.
I know that’s cliche – and we usually think back to the time when we saw Christ in the homeless people on the streets and their vibrancy with life and how we complain too much and such. But y’all. It’s the most true thing about everyone. They are created in the image of God. UNIQUELY created in the image of God. And that means I’m not just looking for others lives to preach the Gospel to me (which, it is such a gift when they do – and they do!). I’m looking at them, for their sake, for Jesus’ sake. This is how we encourage people. This is where true ministry comes from – not a place of striving or fixing or working, but of overflowing with Christ’s love. When we see a fraction of the depth of how much He loves us, how much unimaginable grace He has for us, the only response is to see His people that way. Through His eyes. In His image. And then we love them, we minister to them, we encourage them, we pray for them. And that’s community. That’s relationship.
And I’m not doing the hottest job with it. If I’m real honest, I’m so easily distracted. I shut down when I’m exhausted. I worry and let insecurity turn my eyes from the power of the Gospel. I focus on myself and what Jesus is saying to me, about me. I don’t always do the best job abiding in His love, or extending grace to others. I’m not saying this because I’ve somehow got it all figured out. Not in the least. I’m barely squeaking these sentences out. And I’m worried about posting something so random. And I haven’t actually spent time receiving from Jesus today. And it’s only 7:30am and I’m already tired.
If the point of this for you was just to hear that I’m doing ok and that I’m back on campus – fantastic. Thank you for caring about me! But I pray that the Lord reveals a little more about Himself and what He’s doing in your life and the lives of those around you through this hodgepodge of recent, crazy thoughts and prayers. It’s all about Him. We need community. We need the Holy Spirit. We need laughter and joy. We need grace. We need LOVE – to know we are loved and to give it. And no one will love us and everyone else more than Jesus. So why not sit with Him and learn about love from Love Himself?
Don’t be afraid of the simple Gospel, y’all. I’ve been so humbled by my lack of understanding of these “basic” principles of love and grace that I thought I knew. I grew up watching VeggieTales, after all. But there is so much more.
“You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; you greatly enrich it. The stream of God is full of water. . settle. . .soften. . .bless. . .you have crowned the year with your bounty. . .they shout for joy, yes they sing.” Pieces of Psalm 65:9-13, NASB
I haven’t been doing a lot of heavy-duty Bible reading (though, I started to go through Nehemiah and Matthew yesterday), so Psalms have been a constant companion of mine. They give me words of praise and thanksgiving and prayer when I can’t seem (or am too tired) to find my own! I hope you find encouragement there today.
Have a lovely Wednesday!