The Saga Continues in this weeks installment, as our hero participates in the ministry, but gets sidetracked from his main purpose as fears, doubts, and inadequacies plague his frequently fettered and wandering heart. Will anything be able to remind him of why he is where he is? Will he ultimately succumb to the wiles of the world? Is it even possible that he be reset on track and return to the reason for his arrival in the Dark Continent? The only way to find out is by reading this issue of The Malaria Post.
This past weekend marked the beginning of the full youth programs. Having never been involved in YoungLife, it was an interesting experience for me. I've done enough youth programs that I'm pretty comfortable doing stupid skits and actin' a fool in front of people, but for some reason, this time made me feel nervous. Maybe it was that all the scheduling or titles that were given to the different activities. I've always just followed the schedule of play a game, have a talk. This time it was welcome the kids, play a game, play a song, do a Walk-on (which is a skit/game), play a song, play a video, do a skit, play a song, have a talk. It was a little stressful for more than just me. If there was any pause in between bits, we would all feel like it was falling apart.
I had the role of running the Walk-on and the Skit, the first of which went well. I dressed up like I imagined all coaches throughout history have been dressing and donned the shorter than average shorts, the too tall socks, the somewhat worn-out shoes, the tucked-into-the-elastic-waistband collared shirt, the obligatory whistle, and the North-Mid-Western accent. I was The Coach.
Seeking to reinforce the caste system of high-school, we played a variation of Rock, Paper, Scissors cleverly renamed Punk, Jock, Nerd. We played single elimination so it would culminate in a battle between the two best. Everyone who lost was forced to crawl between the legs of the winner and then become the most enthusiastic fan of the person who defeated them when future battles would ensue. The idea is to get two large groups cheering for their respective conquerors in a raucous finale. It was a fun game.
After that, I got caught up in my curiosity and managed to miss when I was supposed to change into my skit clothes, which threw off the groove of the evening. I felt pretty dumb. The other people in the skit felt weird sitting and waiting for me. The skit didn't run as well as we (at least I) had hoped. I felt more dumb. We did the "Pass It Down" skit, where a nerd on a movie-date gets separated from his date by three people who successively eat and drink the popcorn and soda that the nerd passes to his girl. The skit ends with the "cool guy" sitting beside the nerds date, leaving with the her while the nerd stays behind dejected and still a nerd. People just didn't laugh as much as I was hoping for. I felt dumb.
It's funny how that's what lingers in my memory of the evening. The rest of it went well. Hanging out with the kids before and after the set program was a lot of fun, the songs went well, and the talk was great. But what stays in my mind is my failure. It embarrasses me and I lose sight of why I'm here doing what I do.
I've been reading Isaiah 55:6-9 a lot recently, which talks about forsaking my wicked ways and my unrighteous thoughts, and returning to the Lord, who abundantly pardons. I'm seeing more and more ways and thoughts which I should forsake, but I'm struggling to apply the actual forsaking of the way or thought. How do you forsake pride? How do you forsake not letting other people's opinion of you affect our own opinion of yourself? I was trying to look like a fool during the skit and when I succeeded (albeit not in the manner I was hoping for), I was embarrassed to the point of feeling kinda crappy about myself.
I guess that's why Isaiah included the "return to the Lord... for he will abundantly pardon" clause. I wish I could remember that in the midst of my petty worries. I wish that would be my thought and my way.
The preacher at my church this past Sunday taught on Psalm 51 and talked about the transformation of David after he has returned to the Lord. When his heart has been made clean and the joy of salvation in the Lord is restored to him, he teaches transgressors the ways of the Lord and proclaims the righteousness of God in all of his life. When David's thoughts are on the righteousness of God and when he walks in the ways of the Lord, he can't help but point people to the Lord. It seems like the righteousness of God leaks out of him. That's what I want to be. I want to be an extremely leaky vessel of the love of God.
That's a weird metaphor, but that's what I want to be. I want people to see my failures and to see Jesus' love pouring through them, covering up what I've done. I don't want their memories to be of my failures, but the success of the Lord. I want to be a leaky vessel.
All that to say, I've been thinking a lot these past few days. Just imagine how much I'll be thinking after I give the talk next week...