Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Retrospect, Glory, and Being a Tool

Dude, where did the year go? I feel like last week was August and we were stressing about getting back in to school, but the students just finished finals and we're talking about the New Years Eve Lock-In and all the big plans for 2014.

In retrospect, this year was chaotic and frustrating. Scary and uncertain. Full of disappointment and anxiety mixed with fear and a dash of anger.

But look where we are.

Look what God has done.

It reminds me of that worship song called Never Once:

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

So PJ wanted me to think through the year and consider all that Christ has done and talk about some of the things that God has been teaching me and showing me.

I'm guessing he was hoping I would talk about it with him in person, but maybe if I do it this way he'll actually read my blog. 

So let's think back a year ago...

When I first moved up here, I was terrified of my own inexperience. I had never lived in a state by myself much less started and led a youth group. I was living with the massive and attractive Ben Mackey who is not only an American hero, but a star on National Geographic's Inside Combat Rescue, I was working at Starbucks in the mornings and doing youth stuff in the evenings, I was the youngest leader in the youth group. 
Wait... I still am...

Anyways! I was so terrified of messing anything up. I knew what was at stake and the importance of what we were doing, and I was so afraid of failing. 

If we're being honest and completely genuine, I thought Pastor John was wrong when he first hired me on.

In my head I told myself "What could a twenty one year old, single, college drop-out, camp counselor do to contribute to this beautiful spiritual community?" and I almost discouraged myself. Before moving up here from Arizona, I was praying more than talking. I was terrified. 

In every way possible, God was telling me to move up to Las Vegas and pour myself in to this ministry. All the Godly counsel I sought out, all of my prayer, all of my reading, it was all pointing me to move to Nevada. 
I guess I was just waiting for God to recant His command, "Just kidding, Nate! Gotcha!" But no such luck.

But God was in control every step of the way. In struggles and trials and painful learning situations, God protected, provided, and progressed. If someone were to ask me how I put Ridge Uth together, I would just shrug. God put this youth group together. And he has grown it and blessed it. All glory and credit goes to God alone. 

I was trying to think of all things I've learned,  but there's no way I can put all the information that I have received in to words enough for this blog. All of these thirteen blog entries are my thoughts and my heart of the last thirteen weeks, but even that isn't the full year. 


I guess if I was going to sum up everything I've learned this last year, I could say something to the effect of...

In all situations and circumstances, God is sovereign and powerful. Everything is created by Him and specifically for His glory, ergo, everything has purpose and is usable to bring God glory. Especially us as human beings. We are the unique creation created to worship God and bring glory to our creator. God's sovereignty is best observed in the lives of His people. He provides, intervenes, and guides constantly. Through biblical discipline, we learn more of the character of God. The more we know about God, the more reasons we find to love God. The more we love God, the more passionate we are to serve God and share the gospel. God wants to be relied on and leaned on and trusted. The intensity of God's love and perfection is so beautifully appreciated when we look at the depravity and brokenness of ourselves. God is perfect. We are gnarly. In our sin, God loves us so so so much. So much, He endured death in the form of Jesus and was resurrected for the sole purpose of redeeming us and glorifying Himself. You are worth Jesus' life to God. 

Holy cow I could keep going, but there's not enough room in the internet to write all that God has taught me this past year. And I didn't even begin to talk about the tidbits and knowledge associated with leadership skills and leading a youth ministry in general. 

God is so good!

Looking forward to this coming year, I can't wait!

I've begun to tell people "I'm not blessed; I'm spoiled."

This past year has been so difficult, so stressful, so intensely chaotic and frustrating, and I am so thankful for it.

God is faithful, so I know that God is glorified in everything. Even in the terrible, horrible, despicable situations, God is glorified. 

And isn't that what we all want?

Isn't that what our entire existence is all about?

We can trust that in all situations, no matter the circumstances, God is being glorified. 

So in every situation, I am thankful. 

I believe that God created us as temporal beings so that we could look to the past and see how God had grown us and blessed us, how He had delivered us and saved us. God sees our future, present, and past all at once. He designed it that way.

Looking back the very first blog, we, as trees, have grown so much in the past year. Look back and remember yourself as that tiny pinecone, rough and tiny, insignificant, but so full of life and possibility when all of a sudden you are poured in to and explode in to growth. You are transformed from that tiny, rough, dirty shell into a growing, vulnerable, beautiful creation. With everyday, you have grown and struggled. You fought the push and harsh chill of the winter winds and survived the overwhelming flood. Not only did you survive the flood, but you used it to grow stronger and stronger with each passing hour. Every moment you endured was another moment you grew stronger. You relished and rejoiced in the light of the sun and allowed it to fill you and empower you. Now look at you. Look how far you've come. From that rough, insignificant, dry shell to the massive, ever growing colossus. What does this coming year hold? 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him, above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

If you serve the God of the bible like I do, you are on the winning team. You are victorious in Jesus Christ. Praise God for all of His victories and blessings that are coming this year. Prepare your heart to be used. We are all tools to be used by God. So go ahead and announce to the world I am a tool

I bet I'll get in trouble for that. 

Gosh I am so excited to watch God work and be glorified this coming year!

Nate T B