Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Good News?

You remember that feeling you had around the end of 8th grade? Maybe your life is diometrically different from mine, but I recall this sort of queasiness that had more than one emotion rolling around in my stomach. It was excitement for what was coming up, that I was finally taking another step in my life, maturing (however little you mature at 14), and just moving forward. But there was a very noticeable amount of fear and anxiousness as well, not knowing what lies ahead, what challenges were next, and whether or not I had what it would take to get through okay to the next great leap.

Either way, middle school is middle school; you can't sit in the middle forever.

I've grown very comfortable and have flourished in the middle. I greatly enjoy the hour or so that I spend reading the word of God and meditating on it every day, and praying. I see the benefits of confessing my shortcomings to him and thanking him for his grace in washing me of all the awful things that I've done. I delight in meeting with brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage them, talk about the Lord, and be held accountable for the actions I do and the thoughts in my mind. Basically, I'm doing the this whole growth thing people talk about, I'm doing it well, and frankly, I love it. I don't even mean to sound prideful about this, but I truly think I am coming to know what it even begins to mean to walk in the Spirit.

I am a vessel that keeps being poured into. God pours into me constantly through the bible and through the people I talk to -- my discipler, my good friends, and even just the situations I find myself in every day. I feel the wisdom rising within me like a level of water as it is just being dumped into my soul. It's satisfying to come before the Creator of the universe and believe that he is good, and that he is doing good things in me.

Like a bucket, though, there comes a time when there's so much water that it is plumb full. It has to go somewhere. There's an inevitable point where it'll start running over the sides and dripping through the cracks and holes.

Things don't just stay in the same way forever.

Here I am at the precipice of the next part of my walk with God. I knew it was coming. It had to. A person can't pretend to know Jesus if they don't know what his very last words were:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matthew 28: 19

It's not that I've kept everything to myself; I love talking about what I believe and answer whatever questions people give me. And I talk about God. But even when I try to go about my life here in Florida with a missional mindset, I tend to step back into my comfort zone timidly. It terrifies me half to death to share the gospel sometimes.

Why? I know a lot of Christians have this trouble too, and I want to know why it seems so hard. I can think of a lot of reasons. Frankly, I sound like an idiot. I'm throwing my life away on the belief that there is a God who sent his Son, who is fully human but fully divine, to die on a cross and come back to life as a sacrifice for my sins, which have separated me from God, who is holy. I would be eternally sentenced to being severed from God if I did not pray to the Lord that I want to follow him and repent of my wrongdoing, letting Jesus cover my debt with what he has done. My life is now about telling other people that they can have the same thing if they just have faith that these things are true and seek to please God because of his goodness.


But this is the clincher: What if it's true?

Here is the crossroads at which we all must face when we consider the above claim: it all boils down to whether or not Jesus was risen from the dead. If he wasn't, then we who live like he was are to be pitied above all people. (And yeah, Paul said that! Love that guy!) But if he was, if he rose from the dead three days after he was crucified, then everything is true. The prophecies about him are true. The Old Testament, which he affirmed in his own teaching, is true. The people who saw him and testified about it, and then went out and shared this truth with everyone around them and often were brutally killed for it, were true.

I believe this is true.

I see the fruit of this truth every day. This heart was a nasty place before I turned to Jesus Christ. I look like I have it all together but I don't, and I certainly did not before. I cared so much about me. This life was about filling my needs, using people to meet those needs, and making sure that I was my own god. It never worked. Times of crippling loneliness, hunger for acceptance, fear of rejection, and so many other evils were the victory of the dark forces in this world over me. Convincing me that I was my own savior effectively rendered me broken and hopeless.

If it weren't for a loving God alive and pursuing after me like a shepherd after his sheep, I would have no reason not to keep turning to those other things to satisfy me and make sense of this world. Although they did not serve this purpose for long, there were moments of temporary contentment to keep me coming back to the drug that is pride of life.

But I encountered the Lord of all exactly where I was, and he assured me that he had greater plans for me. He knew what was best for me, and offered me a place in his family as a daughter to him. He saw the way that sin and depravity were chains on my ankles that bound me to a sinking ship, and that I was going to choke on the storming waters around me if I let myself stay in bondage. God held out his hand to me to be lifted from such a fate, and find new life in the ways he knew would be best for me and show the world how awesome and mighty he is to save -- and love.

The biggest problem Christians must have with sharing the gospel is forgetting how good the "good news" really is! When I took the time to write all that, I hadn't even meditated on just how glorious that is until I typed it just now. To think of what could have happened to me if I had not taken his hand! Even a fairly successful, fairly healthy, fairly comfortable girl in the United States needed a savior. The ways I have seen God bless me in planting me to grow by the streams of his wisdom and love can lead me only to stronger, fuller belief. The bucket is pretty full. It was high time that I tell other people about all the wonders God has done through my life and how he would be thrilled to do the same through others.

And so, dear readers, I can officially say that I have been accepted on Summer Project to a little town called Sarajevo, Bosnia.

No, that's not in Africa.

I will be spending 7 weeks living there to meet other college students in Bosnia, building relationships with them, getting into deep conversations with them, and sharing with them the joy that Christ has given me.

The call is enormous. If you didn't know, Bosnia experienced great civil violence 15 years ago. Bosnian people suffered genocide, as did other people who live in former Yugoslavia. Many of them say they are Muslim, but most probably have apathy for any kind of belief anymore. With so many obstacles, I keep doubting that a pansy like me could even open my lips to speak to people who have seen such different things.

Yet I accidentally left out the real last words of Jesus, after telling us to go make disciples of all nations, before ascending into heaven to be with God until the day he returns for his people:

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

If Jesus rose from the dead, this promise is true, and I am glad to be a slave to the gospel for all the great promises in store for those who are faithful.

On a practical note, it's going to take a butt-ton of financial support for me to get there. I mean, this is into the thousands of dollars range, as you can well imagine. If you feel called to help send an ambassador of Christ to this part of the world, please email me or call me, or just find me walking around if you know where I am. (If you know that and I don't know you... we may have a problem.) Above all else, I request your prayer that I will be prepared for the mission before me and that I would die to myself so that Christ can shine through me to the people of Bosnia, but money would still be very, very nice, haha. Just pray it over, or ask me any questions:

I believe that the only God is a God who desires to have people of every nation, tribe, and tongue fall in love with him and beg for him to pardon them so that they can spend eternity in his presence. It might sound like God is being super arrogant, but think about it: God does not lie, and if he did not say he was and is the greatest thing ever to be, what would make sense anymore? He humbled himself enough to become man and die a humiliating death just to reconcile us to him, and that, my friends, is worth begging for money to tell people about.

Enough of that. Good night, and God's grace.

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