In Jr. High, I went on a ski trip to Utah with the family of my friend Justin Greer. Justin and I were homeschooled, and Justin’s mom was the champion of homeschool moms. Even on vacation, she still had homework for her kids. Justin and I had the marvelous privilege (feel my sarcasm) of watching a multiple hour documentary on the Donner party (an Oregon trail group that mostly all died in Utah) and Justin had papers to write on it too. Even on vacation, Mrs. Greer had lessons for us to learn. I was thankful at the time that I didn’t have to write any papers, because I didn’t want to learn. But I think Mrs. Greer may have taught me more about God on that trip than about the history of Utah.
At the time of this experience, I couldn’t believe that she would try to force school-ish things upon us during our ski trip. But now, reflecting on my own recent escapades, I couldn’t be more thankful that God Himself never ever stops teaching lessons and growing us.
This summer, I was blessed to take a vacation. After 11 months of nearly non-stop ministry, I stepped away from the whole world I’ve known and travelled to a new continent: Europe. I wasn’t on outreach, I wasn’t leading worship, and I wasn’t working to save up money. I was taking a rest. This was extremely significant to me. Before this trip, the only reason I’d ever left the United States was for outreach. Before this trip, I had been leading worship or on worship teams regularly for about 7 years. This was a new experience full of new lessons and discoveries.
Chief among the experiences I had this summer was that of self-discovery. I was away from any structure or people that should try to tell me who I am. The concept of leaving a system of familiarity always causes one to wonder if they will be the same outside of that system as they are inside. For fear of going back to old ways, it can even trap people inside those systems for far too long. Honestly, I’ve been in systems for so long that I didn’t know who I would be outside of my “good Christian” system. But I found out that I am real.
I had opportunities to lead worship where people didn’t know me and had no expectations of me, and I enjoyed it. I had opportunities to show the love of Jesus to strangers, and I wanted to. I had a chance to preach the gospel to the lost and hopeless, and I chose to.
Yes, I did some of the same things I might have done in Kona. But I did it without any system or pressure to do those things. I did them because it was real.
And now, I’ve returned to Kona to staff another School of Worship. I’m committed here for this year, so I knew I would have to. But as I was able to step outside of the systems I had known and find my passion for this school again, I am able to return with genuine excitement for the next year. I will not lead worship and have to wonder if it’s real beyond the island I live on. I will tell of the joy of the Gospel and not worry that I’m only doing it because I’m in a missions organization. I will pour myself into relationship with the Creator of the universe and know that this relationship is real far beyond the limits of my systems.
I broke out of my physical boxes this summer, and I found myself to be real. I now re-insert myself into familiar physical surroundings, but full of confidence and excitement for the next year.
It is my desire, in every lesson that I learn from God, that the truth found and lessons learned cause practical change in my life. For this, I need focus, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Please pray, if you will, that my sincerity will last through long hours and busy schedules. I never want to fall into doing the right things because of the people around me. I want to go after Jesus and the things He has for me with a whole heart because of Him and for Him. Pray that the year ahead is full of fruitfulness and growth and that my eyes and ears would be open to receive all that God has for me.
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