I’m taking a Sacred Scripture class this semester and one thing I have learned is that the Old Testament Israelites make me cringe.
Man, they are ANNOYING. All they do is complain. They spent a butt load of years enslaved to a foreign people in a foreign land and God not only delivers them, but does so in a super dramatic way. They have God literally give them food and they complain about how they’re sick of it. And then, even though they have seen God’s mightiness at work, they decide to build their own powerless god to worship in order to excuse their sin. I’m pretty sure that a solid twenty-three percent of the Old Testament is the Israelites grumbling about how they’re just done with life while God pours out blessings upon them.
These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of insanity. I’m over a thousand miles from home, surrounded by new people, in an academically rigorous envirnement. Coming off of a summer serving the youth as a missonary at Catholic Youth Summer Camp, I cannot imagine not living a mission focused, Jesus centered life. But what does that look like here? I look around and see so much lacking.
But I serve a God who lacks nothing. God, who is limitless in what He can do, is in love with me.
I have been looking around the past few weeks and seeing a blur of faces. I have been overwhelmed. I have cried. I have wondered why I am here, what God wants me to do. I have seen this impossible challenge that God is presented me with…to bring revival, to love.
I see this huge cross, this huge, messy mission…and I have collapsed under its weight. It’s like I’ve been trying to use as minimal amount of muscle as possible in order to carry it…I’ve been dragging it up this mountin, barely moving inches. I’m already bloody (emotionally) and sweaty (literally; it’s Florida, y’all) and I have four. more. years.
As I have been spending so much time contemplating the hugeness and impossibleness of this cross, I’ve been brought back a couple months ago, to camp.
It was the middle of the first week of camp and I was so done. I had been gone from home two and a half weeks already, due to training, and I did not think that I could handle any more. I felt completely unequipped and inadequate.
I remember during adoration Wednesday night I could not stop crying. I was shaking with fear…I kept seeing this cross that Jesus was trying to give me and I did not want to accept it. I knew that it meant sacrifice, I knew that it meant I would have to die.
Not your will but mine be done, basically.
I went up to a fellow missonary and said, “Jesus wants to give me this cross…but I can’t take it. I don’t want it, I can’t do it! It hurts so much!”
She prayed a prayer of surrender over me, renouncing fear and the lies that I was not enough. She told me that I was loved, that I was not alone and would not be abandoned. She spoke into my gifts, into the fact that I had a place there building the kingdom of God.
I received so much grace through that prayer. Jesus just kept offering me that cross…and I said yes.
Peace instantly flooded my soul. Conviction that yes, I was worthy of being used, and yes, Jesus can use me, and yes, Jesus is with me claimed my heart. I realized that it wasn’t even me carrying that cross…it was Him. Jesus was simply inviting me to be with Him.
Even though nothing about the situation itself had changed, everything changed. I had renewed passion and zeal and confidence that my God was going to work miracles and wonders. Not only that, but He was going to use me to accomplish them.
No cross could possibly break someone who Jesus is wholeheartedly and irrationally in love with. The only harm that it can do is conform my will to His desire.
It’s amazing what my “yes” resulted in, by the grace of God. It HURT and it was HARD, but when I think of this summer, I don’t think of the late nights, emotional exhaustion, or hard confrontations. I think of the letter I recieved from a camper who told me that my talk on identity changed her whole veiw of herself, who finally believed that she was enough. I think of when a camper defeated fear and finally stepped off of the zipline dock after standing up there a solid twenty minutes. I think of the group of girls who were empowered to go home and meet with their pastor about starting weekly praise and worship to bring revival to their parish.
These glory stories, and so many more, far outweigh any pain that may have been present. Without that pain, the glory would not have been possible. Think the pain of Good Friday…to the glory of Easter Sunday.
I firmly believe that there will be souls in heaven as a result of this summer. Jesus used me this summer to lead people to Him.
But here’s the thing: He’s a perfect gentleman. He will never give without my receptivity and He will never take without my release.
I have been consumed by everything wrong, much more than I have been thinking about how God has provided me with this opportunity of going to school here, against all odds. I have been consumed by all of the people that don’t know Jesus as one huge mountain that is so much bigger than me…but actually, this mountain is made up of a multitude of little rocks. They are not just a crowd…they are individual souls.
Back to Moses. In the thirtieth chapter of Exodus, he is interceeding for the complaining Israelites. He’s begging God to be with them, to go ahead of them, to never leave. God assures him that He will never send where He does not also go.
And then, in Exodus 33:18, Moses says to God, “Show me your glory.”
In the midst of all the impossiblitiy and choas…show me your glory.
What if we saw everything as an opportunity to more fully encounter Jesus?
What if we saw everything as an opportunity to glorify the King of kings?
What if this was our response instead of complaining?
Show me your glory.
What if we looked at what was lacking, and it made us excited? Because of how we knew that God wouldn’t lead us here if He wasn’t going to provide, so we got excited for how we were going to see Him work. What if we stopped being so obsessed with our limitations and became enthralled by our God who has none?
The other night, I accepted this cross. I accepted this mission here, this calling. I don’t know what that means, but I do know that I want to be a docile instrument of the Holy Spirit. I know that I want to see God move. I know that He has been begging to use me and I am not going to say no to God, gracious.
God constantly provides for me so beautifully and faithfully. I refuse to be lost in everything that is so seemingly impossible. I refuse to be afraid when I see all the hearts that need to be won to Jesus. I refuse to be downcast and I refuse to be discouraged. I refuse to put God in a box and impose my own limitations on His power.
Impossibilities are God’s specialty. I just want to see His glory. He has done so many wonders in my life, with my life…and He’s not finished. It’s going to hurt, it does hurt, but suffering is nothing compared with the glory of the King that just radiates onto me and through me. He’s living inside of me…what do I even have to fear? He is protector, provider, and deliverer.
I’m expecting the unexpected. Show me your glory, Jesus. I am not afraid.