Monday, September 20, 2010

Telling the Teens

A few nights ago Jon and I went before the youth group to let them know about our plans to move. This was something that was as difficult as it was exciting. This is our 6th year to be involved in our church's youth group. We LOVE hanging out with the teens, going on retreats, worshiping with them, texting and Facebook-ing them--we just love being with them as they do the things they do. We have grown such close relationships with many of them, and we will truly miss this ministry that we have become part of.

It was really neat when we first told our youth ministry team about moving. They were super supportive and very excited to hear all of the plans that were already in action. They wanted us to tell the teens ourselves, and they realized that in only a few weeks they had scheduled a mini-series about Missions and reaching out to the world. They had already scheduled the first 3 weeks' speakers and invited us to share our story on the fourth week, commenting how it might be very touching to them, especially since they know us so well. Following God's call isn't something that only a select few are qualified to do. In fact, that would be one of our main messages to them that night--something one of Jon's Harding professors had told him: "God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called." They know that we are just regular people and that there is nothing special about us. What makes this special is that we are just trying to work where we see a need in the Kingdom.

On September 1, the night to tell had arrived. I had become pretty nervous in the stomach before we actually walked up to the front--I just wasn't sure what the reaction would be. To open the lesson, I had prepared this video full of funny photos of Jon and myself throughout our lives, trying to tell our story in a light-hearted way.

It worked--we definitely got a lot of laughs at the beginning, but towards the end I noticed that some of the girls were getting a little bit teary as they started to realize where the message was leading.

Next, Jon started with the lesson he had prepared. We didn't want our time in front of them to be all about us and what we were planning on doing, but rather to be about how we wanted them to have the courage to step out and follow when they felt God calling them to be a part of His big plan. Jon shared the Francis Chan quote that I blogged about here in August, "But God does not call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through."

How if we ignore the parts of the Bible that make us uncomfortable, or the parts that we don't think apply to us, we are really missing out on the mission that God has for each one of us. What if we looked outside the walls of our churches, past the nice houses in our neighborhoods, beyond where we are actually present at? Would we see a calling that God has for us? If we did, would we have enough faith to step out and pursue that calling?

Sometimes that can seem pretty scary. It can be easy to let fear hold us back, but we are promised that God is with us wherever we go. He will give us what we need, and if we commit our plans to him they will succeed.

I love to share how I have seen God work in my personal life and Jon shared a little bit of it with the teens that night. I had the desire to work in the mission field all through college, and had planned on doing that even after graduation. I also had the desire to marry and have a family too, though. When I met Jon, I felt like I had to choose one or the other. I love the family that I have, but also had begun to look back and wonder what would have happened had I chosen not to marry. I feel like I have been so blessed with a great family and a godly husband who shares the same desire that I do to serve God in the Kingdom. I feel like my cup is overflowing because it turns out that I really didn't have to choose from those two things--God has blessed me with both. Jon shared this verse that means so much to me, personally, because of this:
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
--Psalm 37:4
I firmly believe that God 'working all of this out' is that he wants to show us how much he can bless our good intentions. We truly want to serve Him, and even though we don't always get it 'right' he still blesses our efforts, and that can be so encouraging.

To wrap up, he shared this verse that has meant so much to me personally since I came across it in high school. I read it to several friends back then, and couldn't understand why they weren't as excited about it as I was. To me, it's a verse that shows just how much God wants to bless our efforts, and I just love it:
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
--Malachi 3:10
Malachi the prophet records God talking to his people about offering up their tithes to God, and in return he will bless them. The principle of a tithe is for people to relinquish control of a small portion of what they have as a sacrifice to God, and here God is begging his people to trust him. If he give him what we have, he can make so much more out of it that we could have ever imagined!

We have decided to answer God's call and test his promises to be faithful to us. We don't have much to offer, but we will do whatever we can to spread the Good News to the people of Honduras. We are just ordinary people. There's nothing special about us, and this story isn't even really about us. We haven't done anything to make any of this happen. This is just the story that we are letting God write.

A couple weeks ago I was sharing our plans with someone and she said, "What makes you think you and Jon can do that? What makes you think you are qualified?

How do you answer that?

So I said, "Well, I'm not exactly sure why we can do that. But I also see no reason why we can't."

God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

We encourage everyone to listen for God's voice in your daily life. Listen for his calling. If you are a believer, then he has work for you to do. You may not be able to move somewhere far away right now. Some of you reading may not even be old enough to drive or able to afford a car! But I bet there's someone at your church or school who could really use a friend right now. I bet there are people who don't know the reason for the hope you have. There are people everywhere who need for someone to reach them.

When you don't know the right thing to do or exactly the thing that God wants you to do, don't let fear or shame or anything else stop you. Be bold. Step out in faithful action. He will bless your efforts. He will bless your faithfulness.

At the end of class, one of the youth ministers came up and prayed over us and our family and the plans that we were making. Then someone started leading "What the Lord Has Done in Me" and the whole youth group surrounded us up front. The lights were off and the singing was beautiful. It gave me chills and it brought tears to my eyes and my heart swelled. It took my ability to sing away, and I could only listen, but it blessed me immensely. I can remember it so vividly, and I hope I always will be able to. It is one of my favorite, most touching memories. Ever.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you shared this. Kevin and I are always in the teens class but for some reason we were in another class that night and when I heard Jon taught it I was really disappointed to have missed it. Then when I heard what it was about I was so upset I missed being apart of that special time. Thanks for having this here so I can read it and think about how it must have been.