“No matter what happens, the gospel is still true, and Jesus still loves you.”
The words physically shook me in my seat. It had been an awful time in my life. Over the past semester I had experienced heartbreak, then the loss of an unborn sister, then the death of my grandfather – and I felt numb. My prayers had dried up, my heart felt like a lifeless chunk of rock. I was fighting the ever-encroaching sense of being utterly alone, my soul had moved past crying out “Why are you sleeping?” and had begun to simply assume that He wasn’t listening.
Then those words – spoken as part of a joke to begin a sermon (it was what he always told – and now I always tell – guys when trying to convince them to ask a girl out) – acted as the vessel by which the Holy Spirit burst through the walls my stony heart was attempting to build, to proclaim to the eyes of my soul that Jesus was not who I thought he was – just another person who would hurt me by not wanting me – but “The King of Love, whose goodness faileth never.”
I went out of Large Group with new breath in my lungs and a song in my heart.
As I was thinking about the reasons that I want to be an RUF intern, this old story of mine – I was a sophomore at the time, which feels like lifetimes ago – captured the heart of it. As far as I know, Joe (our intern at the time, who was preaching) never even knew the way that the Spirit used his words to comfort me in such a way that I still remember it regularly.
We often think about Christianity – and the success of ministry – in terms of conversions. When was I saved, and how many people come to faith as a result of my witness? But that image of ministry is simply not the one the Bible gives us. The beauty of the bride of Christ – which is the splendor of Christ himself – is not portrayed primarily through the event of conversion – that event is merely the prologue to a much longer book. If we are in Christ, then he has begun a good work in us – and he is also bringing it to completion. The brilliant testimony to his love is shown to the world as he makes us look like him.
We are ones who are “prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love.” Our hearts are often cold, our gazes often wavering, our affections often misplaced. We tend to major and minors, and neglect the weightier matter of the law – namely, justice and mercy. And it is for this reason that Christ appoints in his church men to act as his undershepherds – broken and crooked sticks though they be – to point the narrow way which leads to him.
RUF specifically has done this in my life, and the life of my friends. In fact, it seems strange to call them “friends” – we feel more like family. We laugh together, cry together, fight, forgive, and pray together. Christ has bound us all up together under the same name, so that we can truly look at one another and say “You are my brother, you are my sister.”
Above all, there is the constant whisper of the Spirit that comes through all these things: “You see? I am more beautiful than all you could ask or even imagine.”
The Holy Spirit has given me a longing to be part of seeing the Church grow and flourish in the same way that I have under the care of Auburn RUF. He’s given me the gifts I need (and the often stern reminders that they are gifts from Him, not my own abilities, lest I think I have some grounds for boasting) and opened the doors forward, so that I can know that this call is from Him. And that is why I want specifically to be an intern with RUF.
But I can’t do that without your help. The Father has appointed his children to be the means by which his stories of grace come about. Some of you can give financially, some can’t. All wealth belongs to God, who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” – He has given it to some, that they might bless others, but not to all, so that we might learn to love one another in different ways. But I desperately need all of your prayers. The Christian life is not one of independent triumph but but desperate, limping dependence on Christ at all times. Would you join me in begging our Father to continue weaving these stories into the lives of His children?
“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”