I recently found myself speaking to a room full of young people, young people who want to change the world, young people who want to do great things and yet struggle to believe they can. The next few posts will be some of what I shared. I hope you will be blessed, but even more, challenged by what God can do through you and your life as you read this 3 part series of posts! – Willow
I think you want to change the world. I think you do. I think there is something in you that hungers to do something about all the injustices. I think this generation is looking around at a political crisis, a racial crisis, a sex trafficking crisis, an environmental crisis, a spiritual crisis and something is rising up in you. It hasn’t boiled over yet, but it’s gettin’ real hot. And I think you’re tired of suicides and school shootings. You’re tired of bullies and dysfunction in your family. I think you’re tired of seeing the people you love wounded and messed up and seeing their mess spill all over the place. And mostly I think you’re tired of being made to feel like you can’t do much about any of this.
What I really think is you, like me, want to see lives change. You want to see hope restored. You want to see light in the darkness. You want to see your dad set free. You want to see addicts healed. You want to see teenagers know they matter. You want to see your friend believe about herself what you already do. You want to see people come to Jesus in droves because you know to your core that He is the only One who can do anything about all this mess.
You want it. That’s maybe why you‘ve said to Jesus, “I need you. I’ll follow you all the days of my life and serve you.” Jesus said in John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” Jesus said his disciples can change the world. Is this Jesus just blowing smoke? Let’s by faith assume Jesus isn’t a poser and that He isn’t blowing smoke. Let’s take Him at His word. If it be true, why isn’t it a reality in our lives?
We live in a world and even a Christian culture where we have begun to elevate the strong, the seemingly perfect, the “successful”, those at the top of the ladder, and we disqualify the insecure, wounded and weak. We think the people who go to Seminary and have lots of letters after their names are legit and those of us who need to read the picture book Bible are illegit. We’re pretty sure that the guy with the guitar and the girl with the angelic voice are more equipped than those of us who have no rhythm and little gifts. We think the voice that booms from the front with big obnoxious confidence and a mic must really be God’s instrument, and the kid in the back slumped down on his seat, insecure and questioning himself, will get little play. We think the people who came from perfect Christian families are the people who will do the greatest things and those of us who need weekly counselors to hash out our issues won’t be capable of much greatness. We think that if we are a hot mess, we’ll need to undergo a spiritual bleaching before we can help clean up anyone else’s mess.
See we are confident God uses our God swagger, our hipster hipness, our unwavering faith, our right answers, our education, our knowledge of the Bible AND obscure bands, our magnetism, our born-with-a-silver-spoon, well-to-do, accomplished, trending selves. We have a confidence problem.
Our confidence is in the belief that we must really be something for God to use us and confident He won’t use us if we aren’t. As long as we have our confidence in our own confidence we will not change the world. Instead we will be impressing ourselves and each other with our small bouts of self glorifying success and we will be held back by our sicknesses and deep rooted strongholds. So our confidence and lack of confidence in SELF will both be the very things that halt the power of God through us to change the world!
The week I became a Christian, two guys came through my line at Haggen, where I checked groceries to pay for my long island ice teas in college. They were buying massive amounts of baby food. It turned out they were youth leaders at the church I had just given my life to Christ in. And of course they were playing some obnoxious game with whirled peas and carrots that was going to explain the Trinity or something. They eagerly invited me to come be a youth leader. I thought to myself, there is no way! I have never been apart of a youth group, let alone qualified to lead at one. I wouldn’t have a clue how to make a 15 year old play with baby food and turn that into a bestie friendship with Jesus. I thought, I am not even tight with God. I am a slut and I really like to drink Peach Schnapps and dance to Bob Marley. I mean how could God use a girl from an irreligious background with skeletons in the closet, lots of baggage, a load of insecurities, little knowledge of Jesus and no church background? What a wounded mess. I didn’t fit the profile.
But these two men were convincing so I showed up at a rowdy youth group for the first time… as a leader.
I often felt insecure to help people for God. I was sure I didn’t belong and I wasn’t good enough. But the more I showed up to help the kids, the more Jesus started helping me. And these crazy things started happening. I started waking up in the middle of the night with words coming out of my mouth and stories that I had to write down to help struggling high schoolers. I met with the youth pastor and his wife to ask what they thought was happening to me.
They looked at me and said, “We believe God is calling you into vocational ministry.” “What’s vocational ministryyyyyy?” I honestly had no idea. They answered, like duh, “It’s when ministry is your calling and your career.” Stomping my feet on the inside, I said “Noooooooooooooo!” I was pursuing a business degree in college so I could be a leader in the corporate world and make the big bucks and boss people around. I was planning on marrying the guy I had been dating for years and I was going to bring Jesus with me. He was my new friend and He could come along. I wasn’t a Jesus follower. I was a Jesus dragger. Maybe you can resonate. This was one of my first invitations from God to live a life doing something greater than what I had been. Start following and stop dragging.
One day after class, I was walking on the arboretum trail above campus and words came out of my mouth. It was my voice, but God’s words. And He said “I want to use your life to proclaim my power. Sure you believe in me but I want more than that for you and from you. When you get off this trail, you choose, are you gonna go your own way or follow me?” When I stepped off that trail I knew where I was going…
Stay with me and on Friday, we will step off that trail together ….. – Willow