When I went up to Michigan in the middle of September, I was so excited!
Having spent my summer doing missions there, I had grown accustomed to the daily walks around the UofM campus, the intense physical training sessions we had on Palmer Field, the long drives in the early morning to serve in Detroit, the outreaches and intentional, deep conversations we had with others. Being able to go back to a place I had many fond memories of, especially in the midst of a busy school semester while facing a lot of challenges, felt like a good opportunity to rest.
But something was wrong.
I arrived at Michigan, meeting the first few handful of friends. We caught up over what’s going on in our lives post-missions — grad school, training, hackathons, life groups, Sunday Celebration, busyness, future plans — nothing could’ve been so refreshing.
Later, I met up with my team that I was going to work with at the UofM hackathon, MHacks, (which was initially how I came to Michigan) and we chatted about schoolwork, discussed ideas we wanted to work on, plans we had for the coming semester, and how much fun the hackathon event would be.
But something still felt off.
I was messaging several Ann Arbor friends who knew I had come up to the area and was setting times to meet up or chatting. I promised several of them that I would see them later. I talked with my team, saying that I really wanted to leave during the hackathon in order to go to Sunday Celebration for HMCC of Ann Arbor. That was where I would get to once again hear the voice of Pastor Pete or Rebbie speak truth into college students lives, experience worship in the Transformation Center, and hang out with all the friends I had made over the summer.
Then I realized what was wrong.
Michigan holds a special place in my heart— a place where I think about friends, food, and memories. But nowhere during the time had I thought about Him. Jesus. God. The Father. The Creator.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
- Revelation 22:13 ESV
Yes, I had thought about things relating to Him — missions friends, Sunday celebration, Detroit Life Group which will become a church plant!).
But what about Him?
He wasn’t there. My heart yearned to be filled with other stuff.
Sure, my goal in Michigan was to attend a hackathon, and being able to see people and visit the church would be like that extra scoop of meat Chipotle gave along with the meal (kind of a stretch analogy). But I didn’t yearn for the ultimate topping that Chipotle couldn’t offer, which was Christ. He wasn’t the 1st thing, nor the 50th thing on my mind. In those few days, Jesus was not greater than the church, the people, or the place I was at.
And that was hard.
It was hard because Jesus is supposed to be greater than everything I could ever want, need, or dream of.
It was hard because everything is supposed to pale in comparison to the truths and promises He has to provide for us.
It was hard because after spending a Summer serving others, doing missions, and learning sooo many aspects about the one true sovereign God who can provide for everything in life, (my hope I clung on to through the Summer during my deep valleys of anxiety), I had forgotten about Him.
Once again, as a sinner I had fallen short.
What could I do? Where could I turn? How could I ever ask for forgiveness?
And yet there was still something I could do. A place to turn. A way to ask for forgiveness.
There was... no, there is hope.
In the Old Testament, there are many passages of people who have failed and fallen away from God. God, in His righteousness, carried His wrath and justness towards them. But later, after repentance, God reconciled them, and they filled with hope and trust in God again.
In the New Testament, God promised something greater. Out of His love for those who could not save themselves, He sent His Son, Jesus, in order to save us. To die on the corss.
All our sins, all our guilt, all our shame, was washed away the moment His blood was shed. We were no longer bound by the chains of the world. No longer slaves to sin. No longer conformed to the expectations of society.
We were free. Free not only from death, but also in life.
And we can ask for that any day. He is there, waiting for us to go to Him for forgiveness. For rest. For restoration. For freedom from anything and everything we have ever felt we were not worthy enough to hold ourselves to.
He is already proud of us.
So when I look back at the time I got to go back to Michigan, sure, I see that I had not carried out what I had learned from missions. I had failed at turning to God and trusting Him. I had not been a perfect follower of Christ.
But that’s ok.
God did not call on the perfect to carry out His will. He called for the broken-hearted. The weary. The ones who didn’t know what they were doing. He took them, and transformed them, and through Him, they became great disciples of Christ who went and carried out Matthew 28:19–20, not because they could, but because God could. Their source of life was not from within, but from God.
Looking forward, I’m reminded that it’s ok to go about life enjoying time with friends, becoming busy, and taking moments of rest and recuperation. But the main thing is that Jesus is greater. Jesus is the best thing we have.
Let’s not forget the One who should be unforgettable. And let’s not forget to share to others that great joy we have in our lives.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- Matt 28:19-20 ESV