Not the end.

CentriKid 2011 is officially over.  Two days ago I said goodbye to the 18 people I had been living with for a solid two months.  I held it together.  There was no weeping or gnashing of teeth or putting ashes on my head (although that would have been wonderfully dramatic and grandiose and a great story for later).  I went to the airport, got on a plane, landed in Raleigh, and immediately started “regular life” once more.

The transition was quick, smooth, surreal.

Honestly, I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

It would be a lie to say that this summer was easy or glamorous.  There were nights that I cried alone, completely broken by the weight of the burdens carried by my kids.  There were days I questioned what I was even doing at camp.  There were moments I honestly wondered if I could continue one more day.  I asked God what He was doing.  I vented a lot (thank you to all those who listened to me late at night on the phone 🙂 ).  I had moments of extreme doubt – so many questions.

I’m reminded of James 1, where were are told that trials should be considered a joy because they actually produce steadfastness in us; they help us to become “mature and complete.”  It’s fun to read that passage and heartily agree: “Yes, yes, three cheers for trials!  They produce perseverance, yippee!!”  But of course, it’s an entirely different story when actually experiencing one.  A trial – whatever it might be – is for the purpose of surfacing those things which keep us from Christ.  Trials make us aware of those impurities so that we can remove them.

If you enjoy being made aware of your weaknesses, say “Oh yeah!”

Oh no.

God brought me face to face with many of my weaknesses this summer, one of them being my extreme lack of faith.  I honestly found myself praying to God (on multiple occasions) the same words that the man in the book of Mark said when he asked Jesus to heal his child – Lord, I believe…but help my unbelief.  

I had to come to grips with the fact that sometimes God doesn’t let us see fruit of what we do – rather, He asks us to act on faith and fix our eyes on our eternal reward, or to fix our eyes on the end goal.  There were so many times this summer that I wanted to see results.  I wanted to see kids get it.  But when I look at the men and women of the Bible…oftentimes they didn’t see results.  We’re told in Hebrews 11 that

“These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.  Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland….But they are now aspiring to a better land – a heavenly one.”

Our ultimate example of what it looks like to walk in faith is Jesus Christ.  I feel like I’ve already written about this before, but really – what’s one more time going to hurt, am I right?  In Hebrews 12 we’re told that Christ Himself had his eyes fixed on His goal – “the joy set before Him.”  He did not allow himself to be preoccupied with the things going on in the world – because He knew that He was a temporary resident of this world and that He was living for something greater than anything we could imagine – the glory of God.

My greatest joy this summer has been to speak the Gospel.  If we have a relationship with God, we all have a responsibility to share Him with others – no matter who we are.  My responsibility is not to draw people to Him – God does not need me in order to bring people to salvation.  But He allows me to be a part of His story by sharing it.  That is obedience: sharing the Gospel.

And speaking of obedience (I promise I’m almost done)…

All summer long my entire team has emphasized being intentional with kids.  By that I mean starting conversations about God, asking tough questions…talking about things that go beyond surface level.

When I finally settled into my seat on the plane, I had my Harry Potter book ready – for the next hour and a half, I was going to immerse myself in the many happenings at Hogwarts.

And then a woman sat down beside me.

As soon as she sat down, a conversation immediately began inside my head.  Want to know how it went?

Mary!  There’s a person beside you…TALK TO HER!!

I’ve been talking to people all summer.  I’m reading a book right now.

But she’s sitting right beside you.  

Yep.  It’s a plane.  Happens all the time.

Ask her about her life.  Bet it’s interesting…

I’m reeeeeading…

Just start a conversation!  Who knows where it’ll lead!

Aggggh I just want a few minutes to chill out and read HARRY POTTER!!!

..but what if she doesn’t know Christ?

..well…

Who will tell her?

“..Hey, my name’s Mary…”

Take away lesson from camp?  Intentionality does not end when camp does.  Sharing the Gospel is not reserved for only two months out of the year – It should be what we live and breathe.  By the end of the plane ride I was reminded that we are involved in spiritual warfare.  There is a battle going on, and people’s hearts are at stake.  We can’t afford to “take breaks” or be lazy – we have to take every opportunity to be relational, share the Gospel, and be Christ to those who have never known Him.  Paul put it beautifully in Acts 20:24 –

“But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Paul’s purpose – and my purpose, and every Christian’s purpose – is to glorify God and share His story with the world.  Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing – proclaim the name of Christ.  There is no greater joy.

 

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