One year ago today (August 1), I began a new job as the Executive Director of Campus to City Wesley Foundation. The last year has been the most rewarding and the most challenging year of my life. I am grateful for many lessons learned in the last 12 months. With one year on the books, I am even more confident that our ministry to young adults is an essential part of the mission of the Church. I have never had more vision for our work and more hope for the future.
When I began working for CCW, I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing. It was about 6 months later that it dawned on me, “I have absolutely no clue what I am doing.” As I said, there were many lessons learned…most of them the hard way. The struggles and challenges, though rarely desired, always have a way of teaching us wisdom. I could spend all day talking about the number of things God taught me in the last year. For the next three days, I will talk about three primary lessons that are having the greatest impact on my life these days. Hopefully, these lessons will be helpful for you. So here goes…
Lesson #1: I am limited.
Right after the Reclaim Gathering in March, I had a doctor’s appointment that revealed my risk for high blood pressure. After a short conversation with my doctor, it was determined that my greatest risk factor had more to do with genetics than anything else. She gave me a list of things to do going forward and probably told me not to worry, but I fell into a panic. I spent several days having multiple panic attacks. The reason: something could happen to me that I could not control.
I have preached my share of messages about ‘letting go and letting God’, but never before did I experience the crisis of faith that comes from having to literally trust God with my life. During one of the panic attacks, I began to pray and ask God for direction. I believe I heard His response to sound like this: “You need to exercise regularly, eat better, get more sleep and take a day off each week.” I was hoping for something more miraculous or deeply spiritual. But it was the word in due season for me.
In my twenties, I really saw myself as invincible. I was (and still am) a card-carrying workaholic. My days were marked with 4-5 hours of sleep, no breakfast and late lunches with no need for exercise because I wore size XS. As we all know, turning 30 changed everything…I just refused to admit it. Something in my head said that I had to keep living as if I were a 20 year old. I validated this thought practically by saying I had a strong work ethic, missionally by speaking of the urgency of the kingdom and theologically by talking about having eternal life now. It sounded good, and I probably convinced a few people. But the truth was and is (at least for life on this planet)…I am limited.
Admitting this to myself was really hard to do at first. But once I did, it opened up a brand new way of living, working and worshipping. Admitting my limitations frees me to depend on God’s limitless power and provision. It is totally okay for me to say, “I cannot do this”, because then I can confidently say “God can do anything” and then get out of His way. Admitting my limitations does not give me a free pass to do nothing by the way. It helps me understand, for instance, the reasons why God commanded His people to work 6 days and observe Sabbath on the seventh. The seventh day served as a reminder that all of our energy, talent, ability and stamina come for the all-sustaining God. Embracing this holy ordering of things, I can better discern my role in the story that is centered and focused on God Himself. Confessing “I am limited”, has become one of the greatest calls to worship for me…realizing that the end of me helps me access the all of God.
Okay…some of you are probably worried about me now, so let me clear up some things. I am doing great. My doctor reaffirmed that I am in prevention mode, not worry mode. I am still in the process of changing my lifestyle: exercising at least 3 times a week now, trying to stay on a low-sodium diet and re-orienting myself to getting 6-8 hours a night. Again, it is a process, but it is happening. It has been a tough few months, but totally worth the growth and maturity that I have gained as a result. Which leads in to tomorrow’s lesson…