This year I’ve started leading YoungLife College. If you don’t know what YoungLife is its an evangelism and discipleship ministry that seeks to make the gospel fun, appealing and real to kids across the world. It’s a little bit rowdy, usually chaotic and always always ends with the Gospel being preached earnestly and authentically.
As a College Life leader I spend a lot of time inviting kids to things and places where I hope they come to know Jesus. I text girls I’ve met once and ask them to hang out. I eat breakfast in the Vanderbilt cafeteria and try to strike up conversations with new friends. I drive girls I’ve never met 12 hours in one weekend to take them to weekend camp. It’s a bit audacious really, the boldness my team has in pleading for kids to come and meet Jesus.
Usually I extend these invites so tentatively. I send a text and then pray fervently that the girl responds, that the Lord would grant me a chance to know her story over coffee. I drive to small group pouring my heart out begging God for girls to just show up and believe this is worth an hour of their Thursday afternoon. I pray out loud for 5 minutes before I walk into the commons center for breakfast, feeling foolish and slightly crazy, 1000% aware that I have no business being there and I desperately need God’s power and favor to go with me.
Then I sit and I wait. And then the miracles start to happen. A girl overhears me talking in the omelette line and asks where I go to church, opening a door to talk about life and faith for the next 15 minutes. Girls come to small group week after week, eager to become leaders themselves. 24 new friends sign up for camp, and I cry during our first cabin time because I can’t believe God would bring them all here, that his spirit drew them to camp against all odds. They are here even with homework to finish and future tests to study for and and they don’t know a single other person on the trip and some have never been to Younglife camp before. It’s a miracle to watch. The harvest feels plentiful and God feels so faithful and I’ve never been so glad to be following him.
The sweetest thing of all though, has been the reminder that God has been speaking to my own heart. Yes I love watching God show up, again and again and again- and draw girls to bible study, to camp, to club, to meals. But even more I love what he’s teaching me in this season. As I sit and wait and pray for girls to meet I’m reminded ALL THE MORE that the real miracle is also in my own heart, in the fact that I get to invite kids into this. It feels sacred and special to watch girls come to know Jesus and for him to use YoungLife to do it but it feels holy and miraculous that I get to know him too. As I invite girls in, it’s so wildly clear to me that Jesus has invited me into abundant life with him and by a miracle I’ve said yes. It feels crazy when I see a packed club room of freshman wanting to know the Lord, but it feels even crazier when my own fickle, wandering, rowdy self is still in that room wanting to know the Lord all the more as well. I know how sinful I can be, how prone I am to go it alone, how apt I am to pretend all is fine even when it’s not. It’s a miracle my self-sufficent, controlling, appearance justifying self is able to know and love the Lord. It’s a miracle that I showed up, too.
I know it’s not my own merit. I know that more than I’ve ever known before. It’s not because of me that girls come to things, it’s only because of Jesus and his undeniable grace. And it’s not because of me that I’m a younglife leader either. It’s only because of Jesus and his call to me. He called me, he gave me ears to hear, he gave me a mind to understand what he was saying and he enabled my yes every single step of the way. God has parted seas, leveled mountains, broken through roofs to get me to this place. I know it and I rejoice because of how good this must mean he is, how very much this must mean that he loves me.
I don’t ever want to get over the wonder of following him. I pray I get to do it all the rest of my days.