I can't sleep...I can't think straight...and I'm having a hard time focusing on completing menial tasks around the house. Lazy? No...just a youth pastor during the last days of summer. ...and what a summer it has been!
In 16 years of ministry, this was the busiest summer of all, by FAR. We started off the summer with our children's VBS/Basketball Camp, and were blessed to see the Gospel shared with many young kids from our area of the city. We then took our teenage leaders to Super Summer (a leadership camp designed to train young disciples of Jesus). After that, Amy & I took a team to Hungary for two weeks of ministry alongside a ministry team of missionaries that live in-country. Follow that up two days later with a final week of Youth Camp, and that made for a full calendar!
However, just being active is not what keeps me awake at night. Something larger that I cannot seem to shake. You see, I saw God move in some amazing ways this summer. I saw Him move mightily in the lives of others...and I saw Him move my heart in some unforgettable ways. I saw Jesus change lives this summer... I saw Him push people beyond their comfort zones... I saw Him in the eyes of orphans in Hungary, and in the eyes of teenagers right here in Texas. I saw Him move with an authority and power that I have not seen in a long time, and now I sit in wonder of how mighty God really is. This was no regular summer... it has been a game-changer for me.
This summer, we also had an MK (that's Missionary Kid) college student stay with us, and intern in our youth ministry. We were blessed to start this summer by getting to spend a few days with her wonderful family. They serve full-time in Europe, and do ministry in some very interesting places. Listening to their passion for the Lord, and observing their family was such a blessing! We felt such a connection to them, and were so blessed by our involvement with the Pearce family this summer. God impacted our family's life (including our daughters) in ways that we never saw coming. God used this experience to stretch us spiritually, relationally, and our faith as we watched God continually provide for need after need. Amazing...
If you have read my other blogs, you also know that this summer is coming to a close with a serious bout of depression for me. Absolute phsyical, spiritual, and mental exhaustion forced me to finally deal with a problem that I thought I had "under control" for several years. Like Joshua at Ai, or Elijah after fire falling from heaven, or Jonah after seeing Ninevah repent, I am coming off of an amazing experience with God... and have crashed hard. The past 8 days have been incredibly difficult, but I'm slowly starting to see a new picture from God as we move forward. It is not all in complete focus yet, but I stand in amazement at the God I love so dearly. He has used the people of God, His Word, and His grace to prop us up, even when we did not feel like we could move forward. Each new day, we still face massive spiritual attacks by our enemy, the devil. Each day we have to rely on God's strength to press forward...even when defeat is the only thing filling our minds. When these times come, I MUST go back to scripture...and God reminds me of what He told His servants long ago:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
-- Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Of course, God is speaking to the leader of Israel about conquering Jericho, but before Joshua was Moses, and this is what God told him...
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
-- Deut 31:6 (NIV)
Like these men, I believe God has a plan for me, too. Moses and Joshua did not have the luxury of knowing the future, and neither do we. However, I cannot ever go back to "normal"... Once God moved me out of that spot... there's no going back. Holding tightly to His hand as we move through what He has in store for us in the days ahead...