the meaning of life

I discovered the meaning of life on February 12, 1999.

I’ve resolved to remember and reflect on the Gospel constantly and some of the best ways I’ve found to do that is to remember who and what I was before I clearly understood the Gospel and to remember what it was like for the Gospel to come alive in my heart. I was only thirteen years old the day that the Gospel came alive to me and changed the entire direction of my life for over a decade.

I’ll never forget the weekend of February 12. I went to an Acquire the Fire youth conference in Houston, Texas, and I returned home that first night a totally different girl. It was then that I first understood that Christ’s purpose in coming to earth, living a sinless life, dying on the cross, and then being raised from the dead was not just to save me from hell, but to reconcile me to Himself.

The Gospel took on an entirely new light. Church wasn’t just something to do. God wasn’t just someone to worship. The Church was something I was part of… and God was someone to worship and to love.

I realized I was saved from an existence without Him… I was no longer a sinner in need of salvation; my new identity was that I am saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9), adopted into His family (Eph. 1:4-6), transformed (2 Cor. 5:17), redeemed (Gal. 3:12-13, reconciled into right standing with God (2 Cor. 5:18-19) and a coheir with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). And there was more! I was called to be a part of His mission (Mark 16:15).

That’s something that changes you forever.

What a beginning. I spent the weekend on my knees, so totally humbled by this revelation that I didn’t even desire to stand. It was an all-encompassing feeling, one that I’ll never forget but that if I’m not careful I can quickly relegate to the back of my mind. In just a single moment, the Holy Spirit illuminated my own heart and gave me a glimpse of the darkness abiding there –  and the knowledge that I was not in love with Christ, despite the fact that I was a “good kid,” in church and serving daily, obedient to my parents, and a memorizer of Scripture. I realized that even though I had served Christ and recognized my need for a Savior all of my life, I had never really known His heart or that He desired a relationship with me. I had never connected the “why” with the “what” and “how.” I knew we were saved by grace through Christ’s death, but I had never known why He wanted to save me.

That weekend transformed my life to from being Whitney-centered, to being focused on a pursuit of God and the people He loves. I desperately desired that my heart become His heart. I wanted to share His love with anyone and everyone that I met. I saved every penny to head to South Africa that summer to share the Gospel with people who had never heard. I was transformed from the inside out. I had finally figured out that life wasn’t meant to revolve around me. Life is all meant to be all about Christ – showcasing His love and the Gospel to everyone I come in contact with.

This one’s for the girls

This entry is about my girls. It’s for my girls. I call them “my girls” because I think they’re mine, but God always reminds me that really they’re His. This entry is about Stephanie, Ceci, Margot, Janelle, Talli, Janelle T., Karen, Megan, and Becca, and it’s about all the other girls that I’ve ever had the privilege and blessing to have in my small group.

Just like the girls are HIS girls, this vision I have for college ministry and for the Gathering, and for my life… it’s HIS vision. He’s the one who fulfills His own purposes and I am shocked and awed, amazed and astounded that He uses me and that I get to be a part of what He’s doing in my generation. Leading and loving in this ministry is never a burden or a sacrifice. It’s a joy. I feel incredibly blessed just to be used by God and to watch the Holy Spirit work in the lives of the people around me.

Tonight we celebrated community. We took the time to talk about and embrace what God’s done in our lives this last semester and year. We talked about our growth and the fruit we see in each others lives. We talked about how to run from sin and stay pure when we’re away from community while home for the summer. We talked about what the Church should really look like and what Christian community means to our lives. We took time out of our busy lives and away from the demands of finals to meet for three and  a half hours. I know… crazy, right? I didn’t plan on spending that much time there, but God definitely had different plans for us tonight. If I could put our meeting into words, if I were to use just a single word, all I can say is that it was beautiful.

Tonight we did what we call “affirmations.” Basically, we went around the room and talked about (and to) each girl – told what they have meant to us and to our community, how they have grown, and the character attributes that we see in them that make them the women God has called them to be. We laugh and we cry and we have to really be careful about giving each person time to talk because I think we all could have gone on and on for hours longer about each girl, if we had the time. Our group doubled in size this semester but never lost the vulnerability and transparency that we developed at the beginning of the year and I’m so very grateful.

So this is for the girls:

Girls, what a year! We walked through all sorts of difficult trials together. We walked through breakups, talked through theological differences, sent friends abroad, weathered economic hardship, prayed and interceded for salvations, and delved straight into talking about tough topics like brokenness and healing, marriage and relationships, sex and sin. Thank you for that. I can’t even begin to tell you what you have meant to me. You have grown SO much. And I’ve enjoyed walking with you each step of the way.

Christ, and what He  does in our lives, makes us beautiful and makes our time together extraordinary. It’s not every day that you put seven girls in a tiny room and watch as they affirm one another in Christ. It’s almost as though tonight we could watch the growth take place in front of our eyes as we strengthened and sharpened one another. The last meeting of the group is always a little bittersweet for me because I’m sad that you’re heading home or abroad for the summer, but oh so sweet, because I get to hear you talk about all of the revelation that’s come to your hearts, all that you’ve learned, all of the places where you have grown spiritually and emotionally, and how your need for community and mentorship was met by our group. And in that moment, I get to watch all of my dreams come true. For my life and for yours.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for truly loving one another and abstaining from all drama. And thank you for all of the many ways you have loved and supported me this year. Finish finals well, and remember this – community is at the heart of the Church and it’s vital to our relationships with Christ. Take this community we’ve built and recreate it where you are this summer. Embrace and search the Word. Make knowing Christ your pursuit and make Him your heart’s first affection. And run from sin – flee from whatever is evil and remember that compromise is made an inch at a time until you’re a mile from the truth.

This community isn’t dissolving. It’s merely moving. It remains and is here for you always. Like I said tonight, I pray you will all still be friends as you walk through the next seasons of life – graduation and entering the workforce, relationships and marriage, and mortgages and children… lean on and continue to learn from each other. Hold each other accountable. This community is an investment from which you will reap massive dividends.

I love you,

Whitney

“Between an Egyptian Army and a Red Sea” by Mark Batterson

I love how God uses all sorts of things to speak to me. And sometimes He even highlights things that I’ve seen before. Like today, as I was reading through the list of blogs I follow consistently… I ran across this post again and it really spoke to me.

Lesson: when you ask God a question, prepare for an answer, and when you ask for a word from Him, prepare to receive.

Evotional.com

Shared via AddThis

Have Your Way

 “Have Your Way” lyrics from Britt Nicole’s new CD – The Lost Get Found

Feels like I’ve been here forever,
Why can’t you just intervene,
Do you see the tears are falling?
And I’m falling apart at the seams,
But you never said the road would be easy,
But you said that you would never leave.
And you never promised that
this life wasn’t hard,
But you promised you’d take care of me,

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,
My friends and my family have left me
I feel so ashamed and so cold,
Remind you take broken
things and turn them into beautiful

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,

Even if my dreams have died,
Even if I don’t survive,
I’ll still worship you with all my life,
My life, yeah,
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh Whoa, oh
And I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
And I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way, yeah
I know you will,
don’t forget,
Whoa, oh, oh
You love me,
Have your way, Yeah

____________________________________________________

I first heard this song on Sunday while I was driving to church. Mom bought me the CD for my birthday and I’ve had it on repeat since then. It sounds like a sad song, sort of. But I love the hope it holds. Most of the song didn’t resound with where I am right now, but the chorus is incredible:

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way

Sometimes I ask too many questions (I’m told I could be a reporter) and I fear I approach my quiet time with God in the same manner – constantly full of questions about life, the Bible, relationships, etc. and always asking for guidance and answers. Last night, at the Gathering, John encouraged us to not just talk at God, but to actually pray and I was convicted. John said that no friend, even a best friend, wants to sit and be questioned or have problems thrown at them non-stop by a friend who just gets up to leave as soon as their high priority to-do list has been made known. I love helping people, but when I don’t feel valued for who I am and not just for what I can do, a to do list becomes really offensive. God, even understanding my humanity, has to feel the same way. I’m a words of affirmation person – Even if I know, I still have to hear how people who are important to me feel about me. Looking at Scripture, it seems that God operates the same way. So, I’m going to endeavor to set aside time to really value God, to love Him…. and also trust Him with exactly where I am, in this time and in this season. He’s sovereign, and He will have His way. That’s the most comforting thought of all.

You can listen to Have Your Way here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i5Pd60DsFE