Grace

April 1. 2015

Daytona update 5

The weather forecast predicted thunderstorms for today. We had two shifts of evangelizing planned for the last day; rain would have complicated and probably canceled our evangelism efforts. Yet, no fuss or preparation was made about it. No need since no drop of rain fell at all; the clouds provided us with comfortable shade amidst the 80+ degree weather. As we went out evangelizing on our last night shift, I saw a cloud in the distance with lightning blazing within it. But, the storm never came. God provides.

Moments of peace such as now are rare for me; I am on the balcony of our room, typing this while periodically looking up to check if Polaris is still there in the night sky. The clouds threaten to cover him but so far, he is still visible from where I sit. I face directly north; I can make him out immediately. 

The moon is nearly full and the waves are alight with the illuminance of the moon. It looks beautiful and haunting at the same time; I want to take a stroll on the beach in the dark with Polaris at my front and the moon at my back.

I am finding myself reverting back into my quiet, cold, and distant self. I no longer desire to make connections, form new relationships or strengthen old ones. I don’t know if it is the exhaustion from winter or my own arrogance in thinking I’m fine where I’m at; I just don’t have the will to try anymore. I don’t want to be hurt again; I don’t want to feel judged; I don’t want to take risks and lose. 

Talking to Trudy makes me think all sorts of things.

When I tell her of how I thought about myself in the past (a mistake, worthless, like nobody would ever notice if I disappeared), she nods her head and expresses that she felt the exact same way. She tells me that it is so easy to fall into Satan’s trap and believe his lies. At once, I know it is the Lord speaking to me through her, His voice louder than the roaring of the ocean. I listen to her encourage me; my spirit uplifted, my heart convicted, and my eyes teary.

She says I’ll probably always struggle with my personality; it’s who I am. But, Jesus is capable of changing me. 

“Throw yourself out there,” Trudy says. 

You never know where God is going to land you.

I specifically asked Matthew earlier in the day if we could evangelize together at night but as things played out, I wasn’t able to. I end up having good conversations while evangelizing with Greg (it was a breeze for he did most of the talking as he should) but when I see Matthew later, he plays hurt saying that I abandoned him. 

Later, he sits next to me on the couch, puts his hand over his heart and shakes his head. I explain that I couldn’t wait for him because he was so late and that Greg needed a partner so it made sense to just switch partners. He explains his lateness; (nothing he could have done about it; darn traffic) something in the way he speaks makes me wonder if he is genuinely upset that I broke our agreement to evangelize together. 

I stand outside the circle of people worshipping feeling a bit chilly, awkward, and left out. Joan breaks from a conversation she was having and moves to my side; she puts her hands briefly around my shoulders in greeting and it warms not only my body but my heart as well.

I had previously prayed to witness in a more personal way. All week, I have been addressing the intellectual and scientific side of Christianity in my conversations with strangers. Greg had told us in training to be transparent with our sin. “Let them know what a mess you are.” 

Today, I shared my own personal testimony with three teenagers. It might have made a greater impact on myself than it did them. It made me realize; I am still a mess. A huge mess with mishaps and mistakes and misgivings. I am not worthy of Christ at all. 

But, as I told many strangers today on the beach: Jesus loves you and meets you where you’re at and He meets all your needs according to the richness of His glory. 

Daytona this year was dramatically different from last year. Kristin asked me if it was a good different and I replied that I knew in my heart it was good, I just didn’t want to admit it.

This year at Daytona, God revealed to me that I am as broken and sinful as the people on the beach He sent me to evangelize to. Maybe even more of a mess than they are. But, despite that, He is still able to use me.

I am not serving the Lord because I am better than anyone. I did not grow in my faith because I was especially spiritual or obedient. I did not get to where I am now by performing superbly before God’s eyes.

No. I am here solely alone by God’s grace. Because it pleased Him to do so; He picked me. He picked me to save, He picked me to nurture and grow; He picked me to be a light. What amount of work could I do that would be worthy of presenting to Him? Absolutely nothing. As Ian said, my best work would be like filthy rags to the King of the universe. 

Ephesians 2:8-9. For it is by grace you have been saved. 

I wonder how this lesson will carry me when I go back to campus. I wonder how much more humbling God has in store for me. Whatever the case, I am thankful that He will be by my side throughout all of it.

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