Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

It is approaching midnight as I write this. The caffeine from a Coke keeps me awake and alert. Classes start tomorrow.

As cliche as it sounds, it really is a brief calm before the storm for me. I suspect that for the rest of the semester not a night will go by without leaving plenty of homework and stress in it's wake. Countless thoughts flurry about in my mind. WOW was only kid stuff, just some fun to get people acclimated to the college environment. Now it's game time--time for the rubber to meet the road. The wing looks fantastic. Lots of great guys, plenty of good times to look forward to, I've just finished a great talk with my friend and Resident Assistant. A substantial amount of pretty girls have joined the ranks of TMC students. Three Communication classes and a sweet bible class promise a good year in the classroom.

Doubt. Apprehension. Relationships. Encouragement. Conviction. Despair. The gospel.

Heavy issues, but we're made for them, right? The flesh wants hours of Facebook and mediocre friendships, but grace is always sufficient. Let us pray that continuing measures of it are on the horizon. I will candidly admit to anyone that I don't have this whole leadership thing down yet. It's hard to imagine that God would put me in a position like this. I hardly know the first thing about anything, but here I am on Slight Lower-Back with new converts, music majors, athletes, and more. All one can do is pray at this point: "God I'm a loser and a failure, I'm clueless, help. Honestly Lord, please help!"

A Switchfoot song reminded me today to keep a heavenly perspective. I do belong somewhere past this setting sun, finally free, finally strong. Still, that only increases the urgency of the situation. I'll only go through this process two more times at most. Before I know it I'll be graduating, the world before me, then hopefully family and work, and then the end--just like that.

So now is the time to "throw it down." I may only have one or two more years with these guys. Even in seemingly distant things like marriage, I need to start preparing my heart and lifestyle today, because if there's one thing I learned in church today, it's that I still have a long way to go before I become a true man in God's eyes. Titus 2:6 talks about young men being self-controlled. Not quite as simple to master as some might think.

Could I be a trendsetter? Could I be the guy that starts something or guides something in the right direction in Slight Hall this year? The guy that people come to with problems even if I've never had a girlfriend? That's not for me to decide, but I'm gonna try.

And knowing myself, I'm going to fail, and I'm going to lean on God's grace more and more as a result. I'll probably make a fool of myself, and end up in an awkward situation or two, and say stupid things to people. The quest has been set before me, and there's no turning back. Still, our swords are so sharp, and the gospel is so awesome. It's a pity I forget about them so often.

Maybe someone will enjoy reading this. I haven't proofread it yet so please forgive any typos and/or nonsensical rambling.

Friday, August 21, 2009

WOW thoughts

For starters, I'm an ARA (Assistant Resident Assistant, yes that's what it means) in Slight Hall this year at The Master's College, and I've come back a few weeks early for Week of Welcome--hereafter to be referred to as WOW--which is the time when new students are welcomed to the school.

It's really an interesting phenomenon when you get several hundred people together who have never even seen each other before. There's the inevitable social animals who make themselves right at home. There's the one's who develop into a little clique and hang out with the same people all week. There's the loners who are off by themselves just being shy or selfish or hateful or something. And then there's the ones who don't really know how to start a conversation with anybody, but they hang around any person they know even somewhat well.

I was one of these last people, and it's really interesting to see, personally, how I've changed in the past year. The perspective from this side of WOW is much different than the receiving end because now, I understand that the key is to meet lots of people--to just turn around to some random person behind you in line and say "hi." It is not all that difficult either, as long as one approaches it with the proper perspective. I do suppose, after all, that the pressure to impress people and actually make new friends is significantly smaller as an student leader because of returning friends and staff members that you already know.

Then, of course, we have the WOW group, a mysterious conglomeration of random people who get to hang out for a week. This is perhaps the most hit and miss element of WOW. My groups last year and this year have been fantastic. The new students in my group this year hit it off on all cylinders as well, or better, than expected. The one "jock" isn't too cool for the rest of us, and the one really weird kid, you know, that really strange one, manages to fit in with everyone somehow, even adding some timely humor and funny discussions.

But even with all the fun times and new people that I met, the whole SLS experience managed to humble me significantly. Thinking you can serve and love people all the time is one thing. Living it out at 7:00 in the morning after having less than six hours of sleep per night for the past week is another matter entirely. Paul says that the spirit is willing and the flesh weak, but sometimes it feels like both of them are pathetic.

The fact of the matter is this: I'm still new at this whole "leadership" thing. Stepping up and providing direction and enjoyment for a group of seven people that I barely know doesn't come naturally to me. As much as I'd like to be that guy who knows how to smoothly and consistently interact with people while remaining organized and on top of the week's activities, I'm not, and I cannot be...

But that's where grace comes in. God never promises us as believers that we will not fail--else I'd fear the security of my salvation--but He does say that His grace is sufficient. That's the bottom line. I jack things up over and over again. I do irresponsible things. I act harshly or rudely to someone. Even after all of these stupid and selfish things, I still have Christ. The reality and importance of the gospel, even today, cannot, must not, be forgotten. So you messed up and shamed the name of Christ, you'll learn, you'll get better, God will be glorified one way or the other because He is bigger and stronger than a week of six hour nights and awkward situations. I'm reminded of the lyrics to one of the songs we sang this week:

You are stronger
You are stronger
Sin is broken
You have saved me
It is written
Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all

Can I get an "amen?"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random Thought

As I was reading the scriptures the other day, a strange hypothetical occurred to me:

If Switchfoot were a book of the bible, they'd be Ecclesiastes.