In the busy and hustle and bustle of it all, it becomes so easy to overlook simplicity.
This has been the most challenging, most difficult, most faith strengthening, experience of my life. By far.
Tonight was our “exit RAMP” where all of the Midstates regions get back together in Minneapolis for a day and a half to turn in paperwork and such, but also just to debrief on what God has done this summer. Sometimes, I like to just sit back and watch during times like this. It helps me to process my own life. Tonight, listening to the very specific, very detailed stories of what God did in the lives of a certain participant, or certain adult leader, etc etc, I was struck momentarily by an overwhelming feeling that we did not have such dramatic experiences in Cass Lake. At first, I was a bit discouraged. Why did we not have dramatic conversion experiences? Why did we not have community members changed in tearful late night moments? What did we do differently? Did we do something wrong? Should these experiences have happened?
I began to pray to God, asking all of these questions. Wondering why our summer was so different in my mind than what so many people were sharing. Then it hit me, we did the simple things, the basic things, the things that, in the past, had been too often overlooked and the overall relationship between YouthWorks and Cass Lake was so strained that it was on the verge of ceasing to exist as a site. Cass Lake is one of the oldest YouthWorks sites (this was the 10th summer) and things had just been going downhill apparently. Relationships were strained or broken or didn’t exist whatsoever. We came, we prayed, we went through hell sometimes personally, relationally, spiritually; but we came, we prayed, and we simply stepped aside and let God do His thing. This is how I’d describe what I did this summer. Yes, 16 homes/businesses were painted, gardens were restored, and every locker in the town of Cass Lake was cleaned on rainy days, but none of that was me. I simply stepped aside and allowed God to do His thing. To me, during Prep Week, when I was visiting the Tribal Council, tapping the mind of the Mayor, and putting up flier after flier in all of the ‘hotspots’ of the town, I was just using common sense, but apparently this was revolutionary. I visited the Tribal Council and simply asked if they needed anything and if I could put fliers up in their lobby. They had never heard of YouthWorks. Note…this is not in any way whatsoever a hit on YouthWorks. They’re the most well organized company FULL of servant leaders that I’ve ever worked for. So many of the higherups in Minneapolis came to visit our site and GENUINELY wanted our feedback on how things were going. Genuinely, not just because they “should,” but they genuinely were servant leaders who value opinions from all levels. Anyways, Tribal Council, doors opened. Serving the businesses that serve us, lives changed. Being friends not enemies and allies not enemies with those who opened the doors of their school to us. Simple, yet revolutionary ideas that transformed and saved Cass Lake’s existence as a YouthWorks site.
I want to take no credit for anything that happened in Cass Lake this summer. There is no chance I could have done any of it, God did it. I was simply the person He put there to do the tasks I accomplished. I LOVED every single second of painting, scraping, gardening, cleaning lockers, talking with adult leaders about marriage, their faith stories, their kids, their lives, and simply BEING the hands and feet of Christ in a community so poor in spirit, poor in resources, poor in relationships, but rich with stories. Rich with history. Rich with souls just yearning to be known and loved and held, by Christ.
All of 2010, God has been showing me time after time to let go of my control freak nature, let Him do the work, and simply BE LOVED by Him. Let myself be loved and not focus so much on doing doing doing all the time. Not focus on what the ‘right way’ to pray or read my bible or whatever. Just BE in a relationship with Him. Just hang out with God. Just pray my heart our to Him all day long. Every day. Read His word, seek Him. Ask and you shall receive. Tonight it hit me, in my moment of discouragement, that while we may not have had overwhelmingly dramatic stories from this summer, we SIMPLY showed up, LOVED, and WERE the hands and feet of Christ and that is EXACTLY what the city of Cass Lake needed from Christ and we were exactly the people who were called out to carry that task.
Day in and day out, I saw no end in sight. It was supposed to rain, I had no backups, I prayed. There were days where it rained all around the 3 square miles of Cass Lake but not inside it, not on the homes we were restoring through a coat of paint. There were days where all the stuff from home with sickness, relationships, etc was just too much and I could not do it anymore, and He showed up. Not always in speaking to me the ways I expected. Through adult leaders who notice your day and ask to pray for you, through kids who just want to tell you about their lives, through homeowners who are struggling with or have struggled with the same issues you’re facing. He is always there if we SIMPLY look around, get over ourselves, LET HIM be there. Look at the beautiful evergreen trees in the city God placed me in with weather no hotter than 85 degrees. Look at the children’s faces. He gave me this opportunity. And to whom much has been given much will be expected. And to those who leave family, loves, etc for the sake of Christ, they will be blessed.
I learned alot this summer about God, myself, community work, what it’s like to deal with difficult people, what it’s like to look for leadership in yourself instead of relying on others, to take ownership, to walk by faith, to just sit and be with people.
My summer with YouthWorks has come to a close, but I pray to never forget the things that happened in Cass Lake
To never forget the journey I’ve been on since the passion conference in January of just SIMPLY
B E ing
It really is that easy….yes, I’ve said this before, in January