Hey guys–just realized I forgot to post my first update on my blog. It’s from a while ago, but here you are :)
23 June 2013
Greetings from Ocean City, everyone!! These past twelve days have gone by at a frenetic pace, and I really wanted to be focused on getting settled, building relationships, and doing outreach while I first got here. Especially this past week, I’ve been exhausted out of my mind, but in a good way.
One of the questions we asked people a lot this week while doing our surveys on the boardwalk was, “What three words would you use to describe your life?” But to be honest, I’m kind of grasping for words as for how to describe the experience I’ve been having while I’ve been staying here. I can really only think of one word that really encapsulates it–overwhelmed. Let me explain.
I’m an extrovert, and so when I first got to Ocean City on Tuesday, the 11th, I thought I’d be handling meeting new people rather well–that it would not be difficult to have to meet so many people at once. Well, let me tell you–after those first couple days, introducing myself to almost 150 other people, asking them questions about their lives, answering questions about my own, I was overwhelmed and tired and felt sort of maladjusted. As well, that first evening was overwhelming because every Tuesday night we have something called “Date Night With Jesus,” which is basically just a night where everyone on project leaves the Ambassador Inn and has a 2-3 hour individual quiet time–meaning you’re doing Bible study, praying, listening to sermons or worship music (basically, spending personal time with the Lord, kind of like you would on a date). Since I came in only that morning, I had no idea what that was supposed to look like, so I went to the beach, promptly dropped my entire dinner onto the sand on accident, got sand blown into my face, and felt totally distracted and unsure of what to do. I would say if it were an actual date with a person, it would have been the worst date ever, haha.
But I think it was a good thing I came in when I did, because even though I felt overwhelmed with coming in, that week the theme was “Thirsting to Know God,” and we talked a lot about the overwhelming grace of the Gospel, which is so much bigger than any feeling I could experience. The fact that Jesus died for me and every other sinful person on earth, taking the punishment of death that we deserved so that we could know God and live in eternity with Him is amazing. It’s so wonderful that because of Christ, I don’t have to worry about being perfect all the time, because God’s grace (or undeserved gift) of the Gospel is enough to cover any mistake I make. So, even if my “Date Night With Jesus” went wonky and I felt totally distracted, it doesn’t matter. God loves me anyway, even in my mess. The fact that He wants to know me and love me that badly. It’s truly incredible.
There are a lot of other things going on here that can only be described as overwhelming. For example, the enormity of God’s mission for us to spread the Gospel to the world. Christ’s final command to His disciples was this: “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15, NIV). That is what we students were doing this past week, which was called “Killing the Giants” Week. This week, our goal was to do something totally overwhelming, and frankly, terrifying–spreading the Gospel up and down the boardwalk of Ocean City, for hours on end. We prayed for 5,112 spiritual conversations over the course of the week. It was a huge faith goal, one I was totally intimidated by at first. But the more I shared the Gospel, unwilling or tired or lazy as I was, the more I realized how much I liked sharing with people–talking about things that mattered and living life for the timeline of eternity instead of the blip on that line that is my puny little 80-odd years here on earth. And God’s faithfulness shone through. By the end of the week, there had been over 5,300 conversations, and 149 people had prayed to receive Christ!! And the best part was, I got to lead 10 of those people to make that decision, which is so humbling. God’s overwhelming power totally trumped me in my tiredness, inadequacy, and desire to seek out my own comfort instead of talking to people. He met and exceeded our goal made in faith. It was truly overwhelming–overwhelmingly awesome.
I’ve often heard Christians saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Well, after coming to Ocean City, I definitely think that’s a load of bunk. In fact, I think God loves to overwhelm us, so that when we realize we can’t do life on our own, He can come in and show us His glory by totally working in a situation for our good, often making things better for us than if we had tried to do it ourselves. God loves to be depended upon by His children. He is faithful and good, and if we depend on the truth of His Gospel, we can do amazing things in His power and strength. Personally, I’m so grateful I have a mighty, loving God to fall back on when I make mistakes and am imperfect, which is all of the time. It’s extremely liberating.
Anyway, as I go into this next week, called “All for One” week, I ask you to pray for me in a few ways:
–That I would show and be shown love and grace in my community here at the Inn, and truly know what it means to live in a self-sacrificial, biblical community
–That my passion for stepping out and sharing my faith would continue and that we would get to see more Gospel conversations happen
–That I would rely on God’s Word and the reality of God’s unconditional love instead of my feelings to tell me the truth
–That I would daily depend on the Holy Spirit instead of on myself
Thank you so much, and God bless you all!!
In His Love,