"Close your eyes, lower your head, say a prayer, and move forward."
I am often amazed at how God can use events to teach me things. It seems almost comical at times the situations I find myself in, and the attitudes, negative to boot, I meet those situations with, and yet, God smiles and I am drawn to him (or he draws me to him).
Last night was wednesday, another normal day. Only yesterday was not quite so normal for me. I haven't exactly had the best week so far, my car broke down on Sunday, my family is going through some tough times, and I am not able to be there to help, my body is plagued with what seems to be incessant soreness lately. Compound that with spending hours on tech support with people who I don't feel are listening to me, just to find out that I was right in the first place (wasting 5 hours). Ryan is just pissed off! No other way to truly explain it, he's bitter, angry, depressed, distracted, disappointed, detached, and altogether not in a friendly mood. And it's wednesday.
What I haven't told you yet about wednesday yet is that wednesday is Younglife Club night. The night I get together with 5 other leaders and spend 3 hours with 50 inner-city high schoolers. All in all I love Younglife, it has been a wonderful thing in my life, and I know that Christ is entering the lives of a lot of hardened youths that he might not be able to enter without this venue. But Ryan is pissed! He is bitter, angry, depressed, distracted, disappointed, detached, and altogether not in a friendly mood. And to add to that, this week's club is the most involved club that we have done in recent history. I am actually playing the part of Napolean Dynamite thoroughout the club, acting between skits, and dressing like the red headed misfortune himself.
I hate acting! I hate pretending, I hate being anything other than myself, especially in front of people.
Things just seem to keep getting worse. To add to the acting bit, we didn't rehearse anything. If we had rehearsed a bit, I imagine I would have felt a bit better, even just going over the order. But no, nothing, and everyone was late. Jason, playing next to me as Kip, was a bit late, then he had to go to Qualcomm to pick up a kid, so he was REALLY late. He and I were supposed to go over our stuff together, which didn't happen. Various leaders forgot various things, including myself, which served to make me that much less interested in doing anything that night. I even went up to Jeff (our leader of leaders) and tried to petition for us to scratch the whole night and just play capture the flag, it's easy and doesn't require any prep. He thought about it for a second, then declined.
I went to a wall and sat down, thinking of all the reasons I didn't want to be there.
We normally start Younglife at 6. Due to all the problems, leaders late, leaders not prepared, kid's not showing up, etc, we didn't start club until about 6:40. While I was sitting against the wall in the dark, I started thinking of other nights that started out in this manner. Ironically enough, they usually ended with me learning a huge lesson in obedience to God. Not a mangled catastrophe, but the kid's teaching me that I am too selfish, and I need to put things in God's hands more, and less in my own.
Sitting in the dark, leaning against a concrete wall, hearing our kid's talk from a few yards away, a girl yells to one of her friends using a very innappropriate term for a breast. Here I found myself wondering, of all things, why I am so selfish. Why do I have the inability to see past my own selfish desires, and see the beautiful souls of my children. Andrew, Eljin, Amanda, Anthony, David, Olivia, Porshe, Amber, just to name a few. These children are so beautiful, they are so pure, and they ALL live in such unfortunate and unjust situations. Amanda is dealing with very painful times regarding her sister, and I am mad that I had to talk to tech support for a couple hours. Andrew is constantly dealing with pressure from his friends, and honestly has a desire to know Christ more, intimately, and I am pissed that my car broke down. All my kids come from broken homes, I honestly cannot think of one that isn't from a broken home, and I am angry that I have to follow through with a skit that I agreed to do. Why am I unable to see the beauty of my kid's when I need to most? My life is too comfortable!
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Phil 2:3
Sitting alone in the dark I prayed that I would be able to look past myself for the rest of that night, and we began shortly after that. What ensued was one of the most amazing nights I have ever experienced in YoungLife, and I have been doing this for four years. All fifty or so kids participated, which rarely happens. All kid's enjoyed me making a dumbass out of myself, which I didn't think would happen. For 3 hours, these beautiful souls that God created intentionally and specifically for love were able to forget about all the crap that exists in and around their lives. They were allowed to experience some childhood that possibly never existed in their lives before Younglife. They were able to let their guard down, love eachother, be loved genuinely by adults, and love themselves with absolutely no negative consequences. These hardened young adults became little children on the playground. And God was glorified, irregardless of my mistrust. Irregardless of my selfishness, God was glorified.
I was bestowed the honor of talking with Andrew about Jesus last night. Of all the things that I thought might happen last night, this was not on the list. When we were taking prayer requests Andrew in disgust asked why we never pray for Jesus. Not understanding what he meant, the kids thought he was being smart, and his statement was met with a bit of resistance, which embarassed him, and he threw a bit back, I told him I'd talk with him after we were done. I honestly thought he was being smart too. Keep in mind that this IS NOT sunday school, so not all the kinds no the Christian "lingo". When I went up to Andrew and asked him what he meant I was taken aback by the response. What he actually meant was that he was irritated that we never thank Jesus for the things he does for us. "He is the only reason we are here in the first place, we should tell him that we are thankful", is exactly what he said. He wasn't being a smartass when he said, "Pray for Jesus", he simply didn't know how to word what he meant. He wanted to publicly thank Jesus for all that he has done in his life, and even for giving him life in the first place. When you hear someone like this say something like that, it makes you feel pretty small. I have been a Christian my whole life, this kid knows none of the lingo, doesn't understand things about the church, but Christ is in his soul, and present in his mind to an extent that makes me step back in humility. God was glorified, Andrew glorified Christ, and was even martyred for it, and he didn't even know the gravity of his statement, how intense his faith was at that moment. I never claim to understand Christ, and the more I learn about him, the less I know.
Andrew and the rest of the kids are a mystery to me, a mystery that I love, a mystery that that Christ loves.
Below are pictures from last night. One of the activities was "Glamour Shot's with Deb", straight from the movie. Sheeba and Hilary brought in a bunch of wacky clothes, the kids put them on, and we took pictures in front of some sweet custom backdrops.
Gangsta's? Not tonight Miles, Ryan, and Gene.
Porsche and Amber, Porsche was baptized via Younglife last year.
David! With us since the beginning.
Victoria, sporting the "FroHawk".
Tough 'n nasty...in drag?
Miles looking cute as a button.
Elenor and Olivia. (Elenor's grandmother is very ill, take a second and ask God to heal her please).
Haha, no comment.
God please bless Andrew - and thank you Jesus for coming into this whole jumbled mess called earth - this whole jumbled mess called our lives. God bless Ryan too...