Warrior Weak

July 22-26, 2013 was Warrior Week 2013: Freedom Fighters, a military theme teaching the boys that Christ fought for and died for our freedom, much like the men (and women) who serve in the military fight and die for freedom, thus we ought to be willing to lay down our lives for the cause of Christ. The goal of Warrior Week is to encourage Christ-likeness in the young boys who come through, and instill Christian values in them. This was my seventh year participating, my fourth as an Adult Counselor and my third as an Adult Counselor for the 2nd grade age group. This specific camp has only existed for eight years, meaning I’ve only missed one. At this point, I’m an “old pro” at Warrior Week and the only people who have participated more years than I have are the camp directors, Matt and Jason, who founded the camp and By His Design Ministries in 2006 (link to more info below).

I wonder if this is how Paul felt when listing his qualifications to the Corinthians, meaning, a little disgusted with the pride that somehow always manages to creep back into my heart.

I started the week confident that I could handle anything that could be thrown at me, sure of my own ability to lead a group of boys and ready to add another notch to belt. Sadly, my Warrior Week belt that I’ve been so happily notching is not the belt of truth that I should have been wearing. Today is the first full day back in the “real world” since full on camp mode was entered early last Monday. I’ve already managed to screw up in a lot of ways and fall back on a lot of bad habits. How did I go from revving my engine eagerly awaiting a chance to flex my ministry muscles to sitting at home bored and frustrated in less than 7 days? The key to the answer is the operative word “my.”

Just to clarify, apart form the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, I am nothing. Jesus is my all, and apart from Him I have no engine, nor could it rev. Spiritually I am like a baby, with such poorly defined muscle mass and control, I require the Lord to cradle my head and hold me up if I am to stand. So when I went into last week with an attitude of “I can’t wait to bless the boys” it makes much more sense that I came out of it with an attitude of “what’s wrong with me, and why can’t I do anything right?”

I spent all week functioning as a water gun, instead of a garden hose. I’d been spiritually filled by my involvement in lots of other things, and went to Warrior Week with a full tank, pumped and primed. When I pulled the trigger on Monday, the stream that blasted forth was strong and steady. As the week continued, I required more and more pumping, and my reservoir shrank and shrank. By the time I dismounted the bus on Friday afternoon, I’d depleted my store. Like the unlucky kid who finds himself surrounded by enemy super soakers but needing to refill at the kitchen sink, I stepped out of a spiritually supportive environment and into regular life with my needle pointing firmly at “E.” As Christians, we are actually supposed to be the kid who unwinds the hose and unleashes a torrent on our squirt pistol wielding foes.

I think sometimes it is hard for me to operate the way I’m supposed to, tapped into the infinite power of God Almighty, because, let’s face it, no one likes the kid who pulls out the hose. That kid is cheating. But here’s the thing: Christians are not called to play by the rules of the world. In fact, we are exhorted multiple times in Scripture to be set apart from the world. The world is full of people whose guns are filled with stagnant water, or maybe even urine, and we have the ability to connect ourselves to a constant stream of fresh, clean, life-giving water. Suddenly, we kinda hope there are more cheaters connected to God’s cleansing power.

What blows me away is how God still can and still does use me when I’m not walking in full obedience. This past week, despite me coming out of it feeling drained and burdened, was an amazing week. God blessed me with the chance to be party to an amazing group of men, young and not-so-young, who deeply desire to walk with the Lord. I had multiple opportunities to share bits of truth with the boys I worked with, and I got to see them processing deep biblical concepts and help them slog through some tough questions about God’s plan, His love, and His grace. I saw kids who were in my cabin as second graders “graduate” from Warrior Week and receive their swords, and I got to initiate a new batch of 9-year-olds and guide them through their first camp experience. I got to arm wrestle, fight lightsaber battles, zipline, choke down camp food, catch or kill wasps, hunt spiders, avoid snakes, play ga-ga, float in a spring fed lake, blob and be blobed, and just generally love on the next generation of spiritual leaders (both when they were and when they were not covered in food or other filth). God used a Warrior Week, as He always does, to teach me what it means to be a man of God, and how important it is to remain weak and wait for His strength to fill me.



In Dependence Day

My God continues to astound me with His incredible use of irony.

For what may very well be the first time in my life, I am spending the 4th of July apart from my family (who are in Florida, enjoying the sun and sand). I am sitting at home working on support raising (and blog updating) instead. I’m noticing that having a full-time job makes some things difficult. For example, my lack of sufficient vacation is the number one reason I’m NOT currently exposing my pasty skin to cancer-beams from space in hopes of looking a little less like Casper and a little more like A.C. Slater. Additionally, my job is the reason I can’t spend 30+ hours a week sharing the vision I have for the internship at The Austin Stone. I’m dependent on the money from my current 9 to 5 in order to make it through the last few months before I begin my work as a children’s ministry intern. Strangely enough, what has been God’s means of providing for me over the last year, now feels like it’s limiting my access to God’s means of providing for me this next year. I’m bound to my current occupation by my financial obligations, which means that during what time I do get off, I’m bound to my computer and phone by my future financial obligations. So much for celebrating freedom.

But I’m remembering that God isn’t bound by a beverage company. God isn’t bound by how many people I talk to about supporting me, and He certainly isn’t bound by the number of hours in a week or how I spend them. Everything that imposes restrictions on my time and resources is nothing before a great and mighty God. So as I contemplate being dependent on a job or on other people or on my own efforts, I get a sudden sense of God’s independence from all things. Each time I fill my lungs with air, each beat of my heart or bat of my eye, would not be possible apart from the love and provision of Yahweh. Even so, He doesn’t need me to breath or blink. I’m the one that needs Him. God’s purposes will be fulfilled regardless of my efforts.

Today, as citizens of the United States of America, we celebrate the 237th anniversary of the date we declared ourselves independent of the British Empire. Ever since then (especially in Texas) Americans have thrived on the sense of individualism and control and destiny implied by Jefferson’s masterpiece.

Today, as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and heir to heaven, in Christ, I celebrate my complete and utter dependence on God.