Monday, August 5, 2019

Delight

As someone whose flesh is so performance-oriented, it's hard to believe much of the time that God delights in me apart from when I'm doing good work for the Kingdom. Likewise, it's hard much of the time for someone whose flesh is so performance-oriented to delight in God's good gifts, be they his presence, his people, or his word, because attempts to do so are often accompanied by a deeply seeded sense that I'm not enough.

Thankfully, God doesn't let us stew in lies for very long before exposing them as such through our exposure to his body, his scriptures, or his Spirit, through prayer. This weekend, our Arlington staff team retreated to an Airbnb to take some time before the school year starts to recalibrate our hearts with God's truth and build each other up. I can confidently say that God was at work in our team this weekend and did some ground work on our hearts that will no doubt pay Kingdom dividends this school year.

Our team for the year. Boy do they love God and people well!

Throughout the retreat, our team read through a book called In the Name of Jesus, which presents Henri Nouwen's reflections on christian leadership based on Jesus' three temptations in the desert. Though aimed at Christian leaders, the book has so much wisdom for all disciples, who in different ways struggle with the essential temptations Jesus experienced in the desert. It seems Jesus' temptations were in essence all about whether or not he would succumb to a performance-based life and ministry, Nouwen's proposed solution to which is getting in touch with God's love for us through theologically-informed prayer and the communal experience of confession.

In addition to the book, each person on our team led us in a time of prayer and worship with Jesus. In each of these activities, God gave us a chance to put some of the lessons we were learning into practice. In my experience, God reminded me his love for me that is independent of anything I can do for him -- by laying the word "delight" on my heart along with an image of my parents' delight in me (despite knowing how selfish I can be at times!), by using our time of encouragement and affirmation to remind me of how carefully, thoughtfully, and lovingly he made each of us, and by giving me a word from a friend about his posture toward me, which would later be repeated by another friend, post-retreat, that same day.  At this point, how can I not be fired up to be on campus this year, sharing with students the truth about their identities that God has just refreshed in my heart!

I can't wait to post again once Mav Stampede is well underway and students are being met and loved left and right! But in the meantime, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who joined my support team this summer and to everyone who stayed on. God has literally used you to "give [me] this day [my] daily bread," and as a result I get to be on the front lines with our students loving people in Jesus' name. Thank you and praise God!

With love and gratitude,
Jalen