Where I Started
Sadly the Christian life is rarely lived with much foresight. It is when men reflect back on their lives that the truly see the grace, mercy, compassion, righteousness and love the Lord has shown them. Sanctification often happens through trial and suffering to the believer. Summer Beach Project 2010 has been the ultimate display of God's sanctification through suffering in my life. Don't misunderstand me, I enjoyed every minute of project and would do it all again in a heartbeat. However my heart today views my heart the first day of project in remorseful regret. If the office of apostle were ever to come into the world again, I would have believed myself to be the perfect candidate. I was unteachable, without compassion, and self-absorbed to an extreme for one whom Christ had already redeemed. And in the midst of all that pride, I have never experience so much failure in such a short time. All the wisdom I sought to spread seemingly fell on deaf ears. I became one of Satan's favorite tools for turning souls away from the love of Christ and all of this stemmed from seemingly unconquerable pride. I was angry at myself for not having the ability and endurance to overcome these obstacles and "serve" Christ the way I thought I should. I was an unhappy camper.
"Humility for Dummies"
Out of every believer in all of the world, I could not have been given a better one to act as my d-group leader. He was and is a polar opposite of me. My shortcomings are his successes and the more I began to see that the more jealous I became. He is relational, compassionate, caring, loving, and a true servant... I was (and to a large degree still am) not these things. He led in a way that I didn't understand. D-group wasn't about performance and living up to a certain mark, but instead it was concentrated on recognizing our distress and seeing the evidences of grace amidst that distress. It was being focused on dependency and praying despite our pride for that dependency. I always thought I knew what humility was, and thought my pride was necessary to accomplish works until I could figure out how to merge humility and service together. Isn't there a fundamental problem with that statement?! Is service not in and of itself humility? When we count others as better than ourselves and give because we recognize the immense need we all have for Christ, is that not humility? After a five minute conversation with me, one would not have thought so.
Revelation (not the book)
If I remember only one thing from this project it will be the last night. We were having one last night of worship before everybody left to return to their normal lives the next day. I don't really get into musical worship that much. I don't know why, and the more I learn about worship the more I think its not good. But for whatever reason this night I could really here the lyrics as being truths of God, and hindsight I see how it glorifies God to repeat His character back to Himself. I remember getting in the car afterward with a good friend and hearing this question "So, that's it, that's beach project... what do you think?" I thought for a second. God had shown me a lot about His sovereignty, His mercy, His righteousness, His holiness, etc. But for whatever reason none of those things individually were the answer I gave. All the things I had been living for were just my attempts to satisfy my ego and convince myself that I really was okay, and at the end of the day... who cares? Why does any of that matter? If anyone has ever seen the movie Troy, there is a scene where Achilles is talking to His mother about possibly going to fight in the Trojan War. She says that if he stays he will marry a woman, have children, and in a few generations his name will be forgotten. But if he goes to Troy and fights for something greater than himself, he will be a hero whose name will live on forever though the war will take his life. Of course to make a good story he goes to war, dies, and now we all remember Achilles... hooray. This does have application though, I promise. See Achilles could have preserved himself, lived comfortably, and died after a "happy" life. The alternative led to glory, and everlasting life.
If I live for myself, I may find satisfaction for a moment, but I will die like all the rest. But if we live for Christ and fight for His name's sake, it may cost our worldly lives, but we will reign eternally with the Father. Most of all we will be remembered and loved forever by the only one who remembers and loves forever.
The Take Away
I'm not that important and neither are you. Yet despite our unimportance, the Creator and Perfecter of all things loves us and desires us to be with Him. What's the catch? Faith, trust, love, and even humility... that's it. Its not that hard. The question is, can we love enough? Can we give away all our control, ambitions, desires for the sake of Him who loves us above all? I certainly think so, and I know He'll be leading us every step of the way.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21