I wrote this last week on the mission trip...
Tonight I watched our mission team worship God. I watched them react and respond to God's presence. It's the moment each year when I am overwhelmingly grateful for what I get to do with my life.
As I watch students raise hands in the air for the very first time, lifting the cross, lifting it high, I am grateful. I get to see that moment. I get access to that intimate interaction between Father and child. And it gets even better than that. I get to watch a daughter raise her hands to her heavenly Father, and I get to watch her earthly father as he sees that moment, too. I get to see mother and son, best friend and best friend, wrap one arm around each other while their other arms are lifted in surrender. I get to watch young men and women pursue God while they pursue a relationship with one another.
As I transition to new roles in ministry, I am trying to figure out exactly what roles I fill. One of the things I seem to be is a vault—a vault of youth games, youth events, and experiences like the one we had this evening. Tonight as I watched our team, different stories emerged from the vault.
I watched the college guy playing percussion, leading us in our own PCC worship time. I remembered his friend who invited him to my small group years ago. I remembered his coming to my home, unchurched, but curious. I remembered his mohawk phase. I remembered how he used to feed my baby boy snacks during small group, and put his hair in a mohawk, too. I remembered the hunger he developed for God and God's word.
I watched the male junior high small group leader get out of his seat to pray with a young man. I remembered the little boy with a bowl cut in my junior high Sunday School class. I remembered when he came to my small group. I remembered how ecstatic I was when he signed up for his first mission trip, and how bittersweet it was to stay home with my newborn and miss that experience.
I remembered when the percussion player and the small group leader showed up on my doorstop one Sunday afternoon five years ago. I was home on maternity leave. They were on their way to be baptized. I was missing it. Two young men who I'd seen decide to follow Jesus were going to be dunked by someone else, because it was too hot outside and too long a baptism for a newborn. But they stopped by to say "hi" and "thanks" on their way, and I cried and prayed when they left.
I watched our church's newest Worship Coordinator lead us in worship. I remembered a young man who visited our church, not at all sure it was where he wanted to be. I remembered a young man who longed for his previous church. I remembered a young man who forged a place in our student ministry, in our church, and in its leadership.
I watched our summer intern preach a short, emotional message. I remembered how much I enjoyed him as a worship leader, too, and I was grateful for the opportunity to experience that again.
I could go on and on listing different leaders on this trip and the journeys I’ve gotten to see them travel. That perspective is such a gift, and I am grateful for it. I see new stories emerging in new leaders, too.