It’s been only a few weeks since myself and the rest of H2O church has returned from our annual Fall Getaway. There is always something special about heading up to Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, OH. This year marked my 6th Fall Getaway, but my first with H2O Cincinnati. This year’s theme was “The Kingdom Story”. The first session was a sweet reminder of the gospel and the work Christ completed on the cross. The second was about relationships, being vulnerable, and confessing sins to one another. The third and final session was about going into the world and sharing the hope we profess.
What’s crazy about all of this is how God used the weekend to speak to myself. I always love hearing what the students learn, but am always pleasantly surprised when God finds ways to work in my own life. For those who are not up to date, I am officially in Cincinnati now serving with the H2O church on campus at the University of Cincinnati. When I initially heard the call to come to UC I was extremely excited to be closer to home and to serve in the context that I grew up in. However, after moving to Clifton and settling in, the emotions of not returning to BG and being only part-time staff began to set in.
So many lies began saturating my thoughts that I actually began to believe every single one of them. What if it was a mistake to come back to Cincinnati? What if God had bigger plans for me in Bowling Green? If the financial support wasn’t coming in was I really supposed to be a campus missionary? Do people look at me differently because I am only a part-time staff member? Will I ever find joy and feel contentment here in Clifton? Will I make relationships as deep as the ones I formed in BG? How can God love someone with a past like mine? How could someone like me serve a campus church?
That’s all that I can think of at the moment, but there ya go. That was my life exactly a month ago. There was so much emotion welling up in me as I tried to push past all of the lies that I eventually began to bottle it all up. I referred to past tendencies of ignoring my emotions, because having emotions meant showing weakness, and I began to try and “fake it until I made it”. And then it all kind of exploded in my face a few days before we left for Fall Getaway.
I couldn’t tell you what it was or how I had a breakthrough (breakdown really) but I can tell you the only thing I could recognize in that moment was my need for God. I sat in my car and sobbed as I admitted for the first time, in a long time, my utmost need for grace. I had allowed so much darkness to cloud my vision that I had actually begun to get angry and frustrated for the “lack of” God’s presence in my life. What I realized in that moment however, was that I will never outgrow my need for the gospel.
Grace is something I have struggled with for many years, and I understand that I will never fully understand it’s meaning in entirety, but what I do know is that I need it. I had spent so much time over the last month or so dwelling on the negative and ignoring the light that Christ provides. I was trying to fight darkness with darkness which only made things worse. I realize now that things of this world, like approval from other’s or financial provision, will never fully satisfy or fix whatever problems I may face and they sure as heck don’t define who I am in Christ.
Fall Getaway was a sweet reminder of the good news that is the gospel. I have heard it so many times at this point, but I’ve come to realize that we will never truly outgrow our need for the gospel in our lives. Without the daily realization that Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for everything we have done wrong and everything wrong we will ever do, there wouldn’t be an urgency to share the hope that we profess like our speaker shared in our final session of the retreat.
We are called to give a reason to this hope. If God has truly changed us, we should be able to tell others about it; we are called to tell others about it.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Since returning from Fall Getaway God has been moving down here at UC. The students and staff have been on mission and intentionally going out of their way to share the good news of the gospel. It’s been such a sweet journey, but what I think I’ve learned most through it all is our need for God.
We need moments to rest in his promises and mercies. Those quiet times when we can hear his sweet truth whispered to us. How can we share God with others if we don’t know him ourselves? I yearn for the moments when I can sit down with my Father and let Him love on me. I’ve talked previously about finding contentment in all circumstances, and the only way we can achieve that is through the strength of Christ. That strength comes through learning who Christ is, exploring the depths of His unconditional love, and adventuring into the world of His prevenient grace.
Resting in God is not always easy. In fact, with the world we live in, rest in the most general sense is a hard task to achieve. I would say though, that rest should be one of our utmost priorities. In a world that says go, we need to slow down and just be still so that when God does call us we can be ready to move into action. Rest will allow God’s will to be clearer and His truth to be ever-present in our hearts so that when we are asked to “give an answer to the hope that we profess” we will indeed be ready to answer that in full.
How are you resting in the Lord? I encourage you to take the time today to slow down and listen. Ask God how it is He would like you to abide in Him on a daily basis. Ask Him what you can do to prepare yourself to give an answer to the hope you profess in being redeemed by an unconditionally loving Savior. And when He calls you, GO! Jesus Himself came back after defeating death to share this:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)
How will you respond to God’s call?