This summer has been remarkable. I have absolutely loved every minute of it. Okay so that is not entirely true. Early on, I didn’t.
I arrived in Washington on June 8. I was a day late (because of my grandfather’s funeral) and was nervous because feared that the interns would already have formed a tight knit group. Because I was processing through my grandfather’s funeral (and death) and I jumped into the intern group late, I felt that I needed to start off with my defenses up.
I questioned everything. It probably made a bunch of people frustrated but I did not care. I wanted to re-verrify that Soma was legit. The beginning couple weeks of the summer was characterized by my skepticism. The problem was not that I was skeptical but that I refused to let the content change me. I am incredibly thankful for the leaders and other interns who were patient and loving throughout my first weeks there.
All of that drastically changed two or three weeks in. For my Moody internship credit I had to teach six times and (in my opinion) the first message bombed (not in a good way). Beating myself up, I expressed my frustration in my preaching ability to my DNA partner (DNA is Soma’s discipleship model of two guys being mentored by one guy). He challenged me on it. (I mentioned this story in a previous blog post: Rebuild.)
“As you are talking, I am hearing that you are trying to earn the approval of God and yourself. Why do you not believe that the Father’s approval has fully been earned for you by the death and resurrection of Christ and there is nothing more you can do?”
I did not know what to say. I knew that God was gracious. At first I just got really angry and then probably went through all the stages of grief. It is not surprising that I did not have the ears to hear him because my heart had grown hard. However, sure enough after Kevin (DNA partner) dropped me off at the house I just broke down. I sobbed. Now THAT was a new experience for me.
I sobbed because I so often forget that God is gracious. I sobbed because I always try to earn His favor. It is not the prime motivation but deep down in my heart, I had confused serving God for His glory and making Jesus famous with earning grace, approval, and the favor of God. The Spirit in that moment told me if you have me, discerning truth is not all about you. Rely on me to show you. You already have the 100% approval of me. I just needed to hear that message over and over again. Needless to say, the gospel wrecked me.
It was the turning point of the summer. From then on out, I was a lot more trusting of Soma and the Holy Spirit. It was like someone took the drunk goggles off of my head and now I could walk rightly.
I felt free.
Free to fail. Free to be me. Free to trust. Free to not be perfect (though I default to thinking that I need to be). Free to participate in Soma. Free to believe the truth. Free to succeed. Free to make a fool of myself. I am free.
Therefore the rest of the summer just kept getting better and better. As a result of me realizing the freedom I already had, I grew incredibly close to the other interns. The other interns were absolutely remarkable. I learned something from each person.
Jeff: He taught me more about listening to the Spirit. I love listening to him pray. Justin: He taught me about the power of the Gospel and how it can wreck anyone, even an embittered Marine. Paige: She taught me how to recycle… but for real she taught me a lot about grace and what it means to show grace to other people. Greg: We had great conversations; he is incredibly sincere. I learned a ton about taking initiative and being driven missionally to show the love of Christ to the people around. Rachel: She taught me that the Spirit moves mightily in community. She did not feel like being changed but the Spirit totally rocked her. Chris: He taught me a TON about leadership. We butted heads a lot this summer but Chris is solid and loves Jesus. Him and I had some brilliant conversations. Courtney: She taught me more about loving the truth. She is bold! April: She taught me the value of holding my tongue. She is wise and when she speaks people listen. Brad: He taught me to first apply the gospel to myself before I try applying it to other people. His “priestly” sense is so strong and that is incredible for me to see. Levi: He brought to my attention that the Jesus I had bought into is not actually the Jesus we see in Scripture. Him and I went through a similar transformation this summer.
This barely scratches the surface on how people impacted my summer. This Immerse (that was the program title) intern team was integral to my two months. I am unbelievably thankful for the leaders and other interns.
Thank you Father for bringing me to Tacoma, Washington. Thank you that I do not need to earn your approval because Christ secured it for me on the cross. Thank you that you worked mightily in me. Thank you for the leaders (Derek, Randy, Christina) and the other interns. Thank you for the people who supported me so that I could go out there. Thank you that you brought the funds and demonstrated that all things are yours. Thank you for the cross and that the Gospel matters for my Monday-morning struggles.