Because Jesus died for me before I was born, and because He is over time, my value has not changed. I think that a Discipleship Training School teaches that. Each individual has their own unique DTS experience. God is capable of doing that as He is capable of an outreach that is a unique experience. At graduation, no one is surprised to hear a student say, with a toothy grin, God is going to use me now. God has always known your hardships and challenges and was always going to use you – because of and in spite of. He has used you. For me, the take-away is knowing God, not Him knowing me because He has always known me. I am not cooler by my plans to impress Him because He is already impressed. At first I felt embarrassed that my fair-well two minute share was so different from my friends. These are some of the best seekers I have ever known. I basically said I have experienced a healing, a prophecy fulfilled, and God has made me brave and smart. In other words – I’m OK. Others were outlining their future works which is not about salvation nor Jesus’ sacrifice but about their increased value to the Kingdom. There was also accurate mention of healing the hurts that have taken a toll. I know now that I was trying to fit in but I never do. I sincerely took away the best of living in community. I was authentic, therefore, I stood up for myself. Our debrief coach told me that was my takeaway. I do not need to be popular and, once again, I went my own way. How do we explain good works as a goal when this program has always been knowing God and the resulting good works – Kingdom growth – are natural outcomes?
I love and respect the dreams of the other DTS students. Mine was not a better DTS or outcome but it was my outcome. It was life-changing and I wish them all the best. I have learned to be busy and that is my personal rebellion, the thing for me to work on is not doing but being. I have always worked at things. I am learning to be more still and to know God. We belong to Him and not to ourselves so be careful what you are planning if it keeps you too busy for true connection to God. I will not get to God’s gate and read a list of my good works because they are filthy rags compared to a Holy God. What does God expect differently from me now that I have studied under such skilled tutelage? He expects me to know Him – boom.
Let’s look at hardship for a moment because that was a constant in the stories of my friends and fellow students. I think it is hardship that drew us all to wanting to know God more. Acts 12:1-19 tells about the first death of an Apostle, James. Then Peter goes into maximum security and an angel releases him. This topic was skillfully taught by one of my pastors, Justin, at CHCC. 1) Peter had been in prison for a few days and had to trust God. 2) His faith was tested, I Peter 1:6-7. And, 3) Struggle builds skills to minister to others, 2 Cor 1: 3-4.
Isaiah 40:27-31 reads, “Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, my way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
What does soaring look like to a mature believer? I like the thought that as the assembly prayed for Peter, they were meeting in the home of Mark’s mom, Mary. She was a widow, alone, and took risks. Maybe she was my age and I, too, am alone. If there will be a future book of the Who’s Who of faith (like in Hebrews) I don’t think you will find my name listed. I wish to be like David – broken and loved – OK – and a little famous! This widow opened her home under challenging persecution. Maybe she was not so much brave as she was steadfast. I want to be a lover of God who knows Him better each day and is steadfast. No list of “things to do” here today!