Coming Home

I drove home a couple days ago. My freshman year of college is over. 13 hours in a car alone gives you plenty of thinking time. I spent a lot of time on the phone with friends. I told them I was almost bursting with joy as I thought back on so many gifts the Lord had given me. After a long and uneventful drive home, I took the South Duff exit into Ames.

It was late, but the caffeine had me alert so I drove around town. I drove down Duff and Main Street and took a detour around my old elementary school. I saw the changes, the new restaurants and businesses, the caution tape around the old wooden playground as the bulldozers stood by ready to level it. I saw the changes and I knew that I had changed too.

My last night in Waco was amazing. Me and some buddies had a very fruitful dumpster diving session, finding chairs and fans and dressers for next year. Then we sat in the grass on South Russell field and talked about Baylor. We talked about where God was moving, what He had done, what He will do, and where we fit into that. I wanted to stay but I had to go study. I had my last final the next day and needed to get to bed at a decent hour.

In what was a recurring scene this year, the pebbles hit my dorm room window around 1 AM. I heard my friend’s muffled shouts telling me to come out. I remembered my K-life kids’ motto YOLO and decided to join them. We walked over to a different dorm and Carter and I snuck into the kitchen by climbing on the dish conveyer belt. We didn’t really want anything other than to climb and sneak around one last time until we were Sophomores and weren’t supposed to do that kind of thing anymore.

When we came out, my buddy Justin and John Mark went to go get their guitars and we went into the Brooks chapel. There were about fifteen of us. We started worshipping at 2AM and the next two hours was the most authentic worship I’ve ever experienced. We heard our neighbors vocal capabilities a little bit too well and the guitars and djembe weren’t always together. It was perfect.

I don’t know how to write about this last year yet. I need some distance and perspective and sleep. I need some time to process what God did in me and through me down at Baylor. But I do know that we ended things right.

More than anything else, humans are worshippers. Before we are workers or doers or servers or lovers or teachers or writers or doctors or lawyers, we are worshippers. We are wired to live and move and breathe for something. Fill in the blank with money, power, sex, love, the Dallas Cowboys, the 4.0, we all worship.

That night, we worshipped the Lord and it was good. If I learned anything at college, it was that nothing else deserves my worship. I learned God is way too big, way too loving, and way too holy for me to worship my reputation or my grades or the Minnesota Vikings.

I continue to learn that I can worship Him in so many ways. He doesn’t just want my voice, He wants my life. I want to gladly give it up every day because He is good and He knows me and He loves me. I want to worship Him every day.

O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.

The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

Psalm 95:1-6

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Gifts and The Way of Grace

I’ve been reading through Augustine’s Confessions for one of my classes. After we finished the book, we watched the movie The Tree of Life . Here’s the opening scene:

There are two ways through life, the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked, accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself, and others to please it, too. It likes to Lord it over them, to have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it, when love is smiling through all things. – The Tree of Life

The way of grace was demonstrated on the cross. It’s because of the person of Jesus that we look at the world and see love smiling through all things. It’s because of the cross that we can be slighted, forgotten, and disliked. We can accept insults and injuries. We don’t have to please ourselves. The world shines around us as a pure, unadulterated gift from a loving God.

What does the way of grace mean for the way we look at others? If creation is a gift, if the people across the hall or the street are gifts from God, it changes everything. It means people are not a means but an ends. They are meant to be enjoyed, not used. It sounds strange to put it like that, but we use people. Our culture trains us to see each other as instruments, to determine someone’s usefulness based on whether they make us laugh or get us a job or make us feel loved. Jesus enables us to see each other as gifts. He trains us to love with no agenda, to love with no strings attached.

I want to live like that. I want to enjoy the people around me whether they are useful or not. I want to enjoy them whether they slight me or insult me or injure me. I want to see love smiling through their blemishes and brokenness by the simple face that they exist. and then I want to love them. I want to love them because my Savior enables me to walk in the way of grace.

This world is a gift. Engagements, exams, existence, they are gifts. The way of grace, which was demonstrated on the cross, gets that. And it’s still found there. It’s still found in the cross. Jesus enables us to follow the way of grace.