Declaration of Dependence

I’m heading off to summer camp in a couple minutes, but wanted to share something with you guys before I took off. In light of this holiday, I think that this journal entry I wrote during Spring Break has a lot to say about freedom and dependence.

 

3/15/13

The Grand Canyon is the biggest thing I have ever seen. Sitting on the rim gives you chills. I feel so small. If I didn’t believe in a creator God who loves me, this small feeling would be belitting. Sitting on the edge of such a magnificent place would make me feel insignificant. I’d ask myself what hope I have in making an impact in a world too big to wrap my mind around. Why try? Why not just go with the flow, pursue happiness, and know my place? How naïve would I be to think that I could change this place.

I sit on the ledge and I read romans 8. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or nakedness or danger or sword?” “In all things, we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I am small but He isn’t and He loves me. So I sit with the assurance that I am loved and yet perspective that I am small. On my own, I can’t put a dent in this world. So I’ll have a confident humility in Christ, that He loves me, wants to invite me into the beautiful story He is weaving throughout the cosmos, and will use me to glorify Himself.

We sat there right on the cliff, close enough to where the tourists were taking pictures of the foolish 19 year olds instead of the endless canyon they had came to see. We sat there and we worshipped the God who carved that canyon, the God who looks down on our messy, small selves and says we’re worth dying for. Music trickled out of my dingy I-pod speaker and we worshipped.

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.”

“O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to thee. Let they goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee.”

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

This trip, the beauty of creation, the truth of a Creator, and the love of my brothers, makes it harder to wander. It makes it so much more clear that I am delightfully constrained to grace. It makes it so much easier to leave behind the chains and walk in the freedom of His love.

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Jesus sets us free when we realize how freeing it is to be constrained to His grace and forgiveness.

On the day that we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence as a country, I want to celebrate a declaration of dependence. We’re dependent on the love and mercy of our God. And from that place of dependence, He sets us free. He calls us to follow Him and promises that where we’re going is more freeing than anything this world has to offer.

Happy fourth y’all.  

 

Scenes from the Wedding

There are certain scenes from life that stay with us and shape us. This weekend was full of those scenes. Here are just a few.

Scene #1:

Setting: cramped hotel room in the Hampton Inn

What Happened: Miles introduced all seven groomsmen and four ushers and talked about why they were here and how they helped him get here. Alex had shown him what passion for the Lord looked like. Wade taught him more about the gospel and marriage than anyone else. Aaron taught him what being a follower of Christ meant. On and on, down the line, we walked away from that night knowing that the things we love about Miles were taught to him by other people. Then we all gathered around him on a lumpy mattress and prayed for him.

Takeaway #1: Find your groomsmen before you find your bride. Otherwise she’s going to be disappointed in the man she married. Friends are an avenue that God uses to make us into who He wants us to be.

Takeaway #2: Pray with your friends.

Miles got into some trouble at the Bachelor's party

Miles got into some trouble at the Bachelor’s party.

Scene #2:

Setting: Community center turned reception hall with walls that echo. Some kid with hipster glasses next to the groom stands up and grabs the microphone.

What Happened: I gave the best man toast. The speech started harmlessly enough with a couple of jokes and ended with me in tears as I described why Miles is my hero.

Bro, you are strong, smart, and wise but that isn’t what makes you a hero. You’re my hero because you are humble. You lay down your life for the people around you just like Christ laid down His life for you. You held the door open for your classmates every morning for all four years of high school. You served behind the scenes in so many ways at Wheaton, and wherever you’ve been, Ecuador, or Bolivia or some other country I’m forgetting, you’ve touched so many lives because you love and you serve the people around you. Everybody in this room has felt it and seen it, none more than your lovely bride.

I broke down somewhere in the middle and I wasn’t even embarrassed. It was a privilege to cry in front of 270 people because I love my brother so much and I see so much of Jesus in him.

Takeaway #1: Be vulnerable. Everything about our world tells us that it isn’t safe to be real with people and invite them into your life, especially people who you barely know. But Jesus frees us from that.

Takeaway #2: My brother is an incredible person because of his humility. I want to love and serve the way that he loves and serves.

Reception selfie with the bride and groom

Reception selfie with the bride and groom

Scene #3:

Setting: A crowded church in Portage, Indiana. Two people in the front look significantly better than everyone else and read from notecards.

What Happened: My brother read his vows to love Emily for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, until Christ called them home as she wiped a tear from his face. He vowed to love her as Christ loves the Church and gave himself up for the Church, to lay his life down for her and to serve and cherish and sacrifice for her. He put down the card and Emily read her similar vows.

Takeaway #1: “Vows give love a chance and create stability so the feelings of love, always very fitful and fragile, can grow strong and deep over time.” -Tim Kellar

Takeaway #2:  Christ frees us to say those words and mean them. Human love quits when the other person gets sick or the bank calls for the house. Vowing to love like that is ridiculous without the redeeming and transforming love of Christ.

Mr. and Mrs. Greenwald leave the church.

Mr. and Mrs. Greenwald leave the church.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about how the wedding went. I tell them all the same thing. It was an incredible celebration of Christ’s love.