My alma mater asked its grads to write a note of encouragement for all the graduating seniors this year, whose semesters were cut short by COVID-19. Below is what I sent – something pertinent, I think, to everyone who feels loss in this season of the coronavirus.
Dear Graduating Senior,
How many people does it take to tell you something and actually believe it is true?
To tell you that the objective of life is not to just escape through with the least amount of scars, and to bemoan the ones you carry?
To tell you that you are beautiful, a treasure, worth a suffering and a sacrifice?
To tell you that your sins and flaws and edges and grotesque deformities don’t negate unconditional love from your Father in heaven?
Wrestling with the truth leaves you tired. I’ve been mulling over all these things, which have come to light this semester as I’ve been reading and writing and contemplating my life and post-Year-4 existence. I’ve been studying Ruth and Hosea and Genesis and 1 Samuel and realizing the same God who was there in the beginning has always been relational and has always mourned the disobedience of his people.
I have read examples over and
I’m sitting at the breakfast bar in my parents’ kitchen. It’s 9:30pm and I’m knocking back coconut chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, courtesy of my mom and her practical love.
I’m thinking about a lot of things. Tomorrow I leave the Northwoods after a short stint home to begin: Year 4. I feel so funny about starting my last year at Bible College in the big city when three years ago, freshmen orientation was happening and I was scared to walk down the street by myself. In my head it’s only been about a week and maybe five minutes.
This summer, I completed an internship serving in suburbia with a local church’s women’s ministry. I have written a paper encapsulating my current philosophy of ministry to women, studied the Word immensely, took ownership of my retirement account, and upgraded my solo-highway-driving skills. I have struggled with anxieties, calling, future,
“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.” -King Solomon. Prov 4:23.
I grew up in the mid-2000s, hyper-purity youth group culture of Christianity. Youth group emphasized saving yourself for marriage, dating was implied to be bad, and everyone was always wondering whether or not you “liked” a guy because you talked to him for more than eight seconds. I remember specifically attending a conference on relationships as a teenager where the entire emphasis was, literally, about keeping your pants on. They were selling checkered suspenders in the lobby.
And then I went to Bible College.
Cue confusion over courtship, paranoia about sneak-attack coffee dates (“Is is a date? Does he like me? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN”), and engagements left and right. It’s a strange arena to attempt navigation, and the Starbucks counter down the street has witnessed many a DTR
Oftentimes, I feel like there is nothing more to say.
What is the significance of “my contribution” to any of this world? Writing, thoughts, opinions, convictions, definitions, loves, hates?
What on earth do I have to offer? Hasn’t everything already been felt, expressed, acted on enough times?
I am a small woman attempting to serve her Maker. I have been given gifts and circumstances, but everything I am doing is because of God working through me. It is a humbling gestalt to realize that, despite my abilities to create, illumine, influence humans, do a good work here or there–I am incapable of doing anything outside of God, who gives me a breath and a heartbeat, a breath and a heartbeat, but I am furthermore incapable of doing anything to please him unless he changes me and works goodness through me. Praise his name eternally, for he has, by the blood of his Son
Crumbs. Pieces. Fragments. Slices.
The Bible, when you think about it, doesn’t offer us that much. This book is, by its own attestation, God’s complete self-revelation, everything he believes is necessary for us to know about him, ourselves, and this world in order to live the way we were meant to. And all we have? Some history of an obscure people group in the Middle East, poetry, strange prophecies from even stranger times, and some random letters written by preachers on the run. Not much.
But this is everything. Life, truth, light. We can KNOW GOD through these seemingly-random desert scribblings. This is how the Creator and Redeemer of the universe has decreed it, and the fact that he used the vehicle of language is shocking. When you examine the Bible through the lens of humility, of knowing God, this is what you see.
Currently, I am staring at a dusty passage from
There are several storage tubs currently sitting under my bed. They hold things of mine: gloves, an extra hat, shoes, summer clothes neatly folded and laundered.
We tend to associate storage with organization, or unneeded items, or solved predicaments. Our closets hold possessions that are not necessary for regular use, or perhaps they keep hidden things that shouldn’t be seen by visitors in our lives.
Each one of us has a heart closet. In his great redemptive work of love, Jesus cleans out our souls with his blood and enters inside. He takes up residence (Eph 3:17-19), and as we grow up spiritually, he travels further, requesting access into more and more chambers of our closets.
Sometimes, though, there are scars. We make mistakes that leave deep wounds. We run to disobedience, lusting after idols and sin. We bury a hatchet instead of dealing with it. We overlook our offenses against others. In
“I left him four months ago.”
I don’t know how much of it is real, but the Lord has led me to talk and pray with M several times while doing street evangelism. Her life is incredibly broken, marked by abusive relationships and disease and too many children left to fend for themselves while their mother tries to beg a few dollars.
Women like M make me want to curl up and weep. I cannot fix her problems, and so I want to run away. I have none of her problems, and so I feel a sense of shame. But still I sit with my legs politely folded as she updates me: how she might be getting housing soon, how she’s so excited (she then proceeds to pull out photos of her children). And I give her a dollar and encourage her and then our group pulls her into our circle for
Do you neglect your body? Because Christ sure didn’t. He redeemed what he took on, and I suppose that includes the human body.
Marissa and I were talking in her room the other night, attempting to do homework and read but not getting very far. She’s a bit of a health nut. I appreciate her insight.
“Christians should really be the physically healthiest people out there. I mean, we’ve been made spiritually whole by Jesus, so that should extend to how we treat ourselves physically.”
She got me thinking. Do I take care of my body? Because Jesus died for me, and he was incarnated into a human body. You’d think that would mean something to us, right?
And yet how often do I see in my own life and in the lives of others this attitude that our bodies are just trash receptacles, temporary “tents” that we can use however we want and to do