Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Welcome to the Machine

Ocean City Summer Project... Let's be honest, it was not my first choice on how to spend my summer. I'm going to get this out of the way right away in case you don't know me personally. I'm a very cynical individual. I take the world in with a blatantly sarcastic and doubtful disposition, not much gets me emotionally riled up, and I tend to shy away from large groups of people. With all this in mind let me explain to you why I'm a follower of Jesus Christ...

I've been a Christian all my life. Indeed, one of the first memories I have is accepting Him into my life when I was around the age of four or five. Not that I really understood what that meant at the time, but it pleased my parents when I told them. However, looking back I can see that God had His hand on me throughout; although I could not point to a specific spot where everything I now believe clicked into place, by the time I entered high school I could have given you a 100% guarantee that I was going to heaven, knowing that salvation comes through the acceptance of the free gift of grace and does not come about by anything I could try to do to please God on my own, because if it did, then Jesus' dying on the cross (and taking my sin with him) would have been a meaningless act (Gal 2:21). I highly doubt that God would deal in meaninglessness, especially where the death of his own son is concerned. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still a broken mess of an individual. It's just that God doesn't count it against me anymore.

I'll save my high school and college experience for another time and skip ahead to why I'm here in Ocean City for the entire summer. Quite frankly, I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for the community I have backing me planting their metaphorical foot firmly on my apathetic behind and making sure that I got here. Let me explain... In order to get to Ocean City you have to apply, which I did last-second-ish and without bothering to fully fill out all the paragraphs as completely as I could have, sort of hoping they wouldn't accept my application. They did, much to the delight of my discipler Brent who was cheering me on from the word go. Next, one has to raise the support necessary to come by mailing out letters asking for money and following up with phone calls... scary business. Once again I showed my overwhelming enthusiasm by sending out my letters incredibly late and sending far fewer than I was suppose to. This did not stop me from raising all the money in about a seven day span with no phone calls required. In fact, the next day after I sent the batch of letters I received my first support check in the mail. I'm not sure if you're aware of how the U.S. Postal Service operates, but it's not quite that fast. To top it off, it was from somebody I had never met who lived in another state. Turns out my dad, a pastor by trade, let it slip to his congregation that I had decided to go on this trip. Then, for some reason, a member of our church told one of their non-Iowan relatives about my future endeavors, and they sent me the check. All I could do was roll my eyes (and believe me, I did) as letter after letter containing checks flooded into my dorm room over the course of the next couple days. After this, it was pretty much a given that I was going to go.

The 26 hour car ride over here was a good time, but when I got here it wasn't so much fun for the first couple days. You see, I'm frightened of people I barely know and downright terrified of people I don't, and there was about 70 of them waiting to greet me. All in all, not a very "smooth" initial week for me in any sense of the word. Since then, I have made friends out of most of the guys and a few of the girls here. More importantly however, I have had an awesome time with my Lord and Savior through quiet times, prayer, and the community he has provided me. Since I've arrived, I've had the opportunity to have many spiritual conversations with random strangers, even the chance to lead two of them to Christ. (Honestly, the cynical side of me scoffs at their sincerity since I only had about 15 minutes with them, which, it argues, is not a significant amount of time to make a life changing decision. All I can do now is trust God's continual pursuit, which I believe I can count on.) All in all, it's been a fairly eye opening start, and I'll try to keep you posted on my thoughts, actions, and such from here on out.

"The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair." - Relient K

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