My husband and I just returned from 36 hours of Young Life camp in North Georgia. It was a wonderful time to get away and enjoy renewed perspective, fellowship and worship. I reflected on the ride home about what lessons I wanted to take away from our weekend. I wanted something in a neat little themed package...but truthfully I am still processing much of the great teaching we received.
I did realize this weekend, that one of the most rewarding blessings of ministry is watching the circles it forms and how God uses some to sow seeds and others to reap. It often takes years to realize the impact of the small things. This weekend I was blessed to reunite with over a dozen people from different chapters of my life. Some of them were my Young Life leaders 17 years ago...and they still have the passion. I can only imagine how they felt to see a former Young Life "kid" of theirs now serving in a leadership role with the ministry in another city. Incredible!
In the same way, I remember volunteering to clear the brush for construction to begin on this camp almost 10 years ago. Now they host thousands of kids each Summer and many of them hear about and respond to the hope of Christ for the first time. Even though my part in all this was very, very small, it meant so much to me to be there this weekend and see how far the camp had come.
Isn't that the beauty of being used by God? Knowing that anyone could have been out there cutting the brush-- I certainly don't possess any great skills in that area. Yet, by virtue of my "sweat equity" God allowed me to feel a part of something so much bigger than myself.
This is what I love about ministry. If God calls me and I don't answer, He will still get the work done. He doesn't NEED me. But He allows us to participate in His work...and having that front row seat to witness how He is working is one of the greatest faith builders around.
Next time I find myself motivated to serve by guilt, duty or any other less than pure motive, I pray I can remember that the freedom of Christ means I don't HAVE TO do anything...but what a blessing that God invites us to participate in His work...incredible!
We also spent a lot of time hearing encouragement to think of ourselves more like God thinks of us: as His beloved. I loved a quote the speaker used, attributed to St. Anthony, "Behold God beholding you...and smiling."
Our God does not stand in the distance critiquing our every move, pointing out our weaknesses and our failures for kicks. He loves us. He created us. He invites us to fellowship and relationship with Himself.
If the all-powerful God of the Universe views us this way, why aren't we more gentle with ourselves and with others?
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.