Story of Wonder
We learn in 1 Chronicles 16 that telling stories of God’s goodness and giving thanks was at the center of Hebrew worship. The Israelites set aside time to practice gratitude within their worship by speaking of God’s mighty deeds and remembering his blessings, wonderful works, and faithfulness.
We’ve begun asking folks in our community to share their Stories of Wonder at our public worship. These are stories of God working in our midst, speaking, leading, and providing for his people. This gives us an opportunity to recognize and rejoice in God’s powerful deeds, and it also trains us to pay attention to how God might be at work in our own lives. This one is from Lauren.
In 2012, I moved back home here to Miami, where I was born and raised. Primarily I came back to volunteer with a college campus ministry, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and to help plant chapters at Miami Dade College, a place with a large student body that is historically unreached with the Gospel but also ripe for harvest. I felt that the Lord was asking me to give more of my time to working with college students, primarily doing leadership development, as well as mentoring and discipling them into understanding more of who Jesus is, so I applied to work with InterVarsity. I also heard God ask me to trust Him and to not be afraid, to not refrain from suffering, as moving into working as a Campus Minister requires a lot of risks. I was reminded that to follow Jesus means that he calls us to lay down our lives and He will call us into places that make us uncomfortable. It meant that I would have to leave my full time job with what felt like a secure paycheck into raising financial support as a missionary to the college campus. I also heard the Lord ask me to give up material possessions, even my car, so that I could afford to live more simply, and also a romantic pursuit that I was in long-distance so that I would not compromise my commitment and call to be here in Miami.
It has been difficult. I have given up much of what I had my security in and I had not even realized that I had done so. There have been many moments where I have wondered where enough money would come from to buy groceries or put gas in my car and in my moments of doubt and fear, Jesus has shown up to provide not only financially, but also to comfort me in my moments of doubt and fear. In moments where I have struggled because of not having certain material possessions, a certain income, or a relational status, Jesus has gently challenged me to remember that my identity is not in any of those things. I am not defined by what I have or do not have, but rather my value comes from who I am in Christ. I have experienced my Father’s love and provision in ways that I never have before and it has taken me to a new level of gratefulness and dependency on God. I literally thank the Lord now when I turn the car on, for having a car to drive (an older, used one now, but it’s great!) and enough gas to get around.
Furthermore, I have seen the fruit of labor on the college campuses that I have the privilege of laboring on. There are difficult moments, but there are many joyful ones, too. We have watched students over the past couple of years give their lives to Jesus for the first time and we have walked with younger believers into taking risks for God’s Kingdom and learning to share the Gospel boldly with their peers on campus. I have walked with students in deep brokenness of their past and watched Jesus heal their wounds and set them free from sin. We have been able to have beautiful conversations with atheists and agnostics and folks burned by religion by giving them space to share their views and ask hard questions and helping them see more of Jesus really is for the first time. We have experienced Jesus multiply this ministry. We started off at Miami Dade Wolfson campus in downtown and now are planting chapters at MDC North as well as FIU South.
The cost has been high, but in my toughest and weakest moments I am reminded that Jesus is my strength in these moments and in the end my life belongs to Him. There is no better life that I could have cultivated for myself and I know my good Lord will continue to lead me into good places, that He will take care of me and satisfy the desires of my heart as I choose to say yes to Him.