Life is Short, Eternity is Forever
If you’re reading this, chances are good that you (a) are about to go on your first ever summer project, (b) have participated in a summer project before, or (c) is the parent of a child who fits in (a) or (b).
If you found yourself fitting into (a), then wow I am encouraged by you. You’ve made a sacrificial decision. You chose to not conform to the pattern of the world. Because, honestly, who on earth chooses to spend 9 weeks of their summer this way? I can promise, you will not regret your decision. My first summer project was foundational in my walk with Christ. So much of the way that I live my life today found its root in my first project. (I am also married to a man that I first met on that summer project… But moving on!) (Okay, because I said that, now I have to say this: seriously don’t focus on the cute boys or girls on the summer project. It’s 9 weeks. You can admire from afar the way the Lord is molding the hearts of some of your brothers or sisters, but please let the Lord mold your own heart in this time. Don’t waste the summer’s incredible opportunity by fixing your eyes on a relationship. Fix your eyes on Christ.) I won’t spend much more time speaking to you, because you have so much fun ahead of you, and so much knowledge to soak up. I would simply encourage you to be humble, be teachable, and to ask God to reveal more of Himself to you as he works in your heart this summer.
If (b) sounds more like you, then wow you have some awesome memories. Please continue to not follow the pattern of the world. Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13 to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead. Frankly, the fact that you went on a mission trip 6 years ago or a discipleship project 2 years ago is not what makes you righteous today. Your “Christian resume” simply isn’t (and will never be) good enough. Your “Christian resume” is not what brings about fruit in your life. Jesus says in John 15:4-5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” If you want to continue to see fruit in your life, you must abide in Christ daily.
Take all of this from a recent graduate who forgot this truth for a few months and saw no fruit. I did not know how to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead. I did not know how to treasure the Word of God outside of the context of college ministry. Finding community in the local church instead of the college campus was a slow and unfamiliar process. I shied away from sharing the gospel boldly for a season. I got so caught up in the pattern of the world that I felt like my life had no purpose, solely because I don’t have a successful career yet. I was not abiding in Christ.
But friends, the Lord is good and merciful and longsuffering with you and I. The Lord showed me slowly that ministry does not always look the same outside of college. He was faithful to place believers around me to sharpen in encourage me, many of which are nowhere near my age or season of life. He showed me that his Word is precious in all seasons. Yes, his Word is precious when I am reading it to share with college students in my dorm, but his Word is also precious when I am soaking it up simply for the purpose of knowing God and hiding away Truth in my heart for a later season. He showed me that despite the way the world screams at me to be successful when I meet my Creator in heaven, He will be no less pleased with me due to what career I chose or what job I worked. I need only to abide, abide, abide. When I abide in Christ, no matter what my life looks like, that is when I bear much fruit. Friends, abide. And as you abide, strain forward to what lies ahead.
If you are the parent of a child who fits into (a) or (b), then wow! Just wow. You may be excited. You may be scared. You may be ecstatic. You may be upset. Your feelings may be hurt that your child is spending the summer away. You may have expectations of the summer with your child that simply won’t happen with them gone. You may not understand their decision. You may be so proud of them, yet heartbroken at the same time.
Parent, let your child GO.
Jesus says in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”
Let them GO to the nations. Give your child the gift of supportive and understanding parents. What a great sacrifice that will be on your part; it is no easy task to encourage your child to go. Your child’s going does not mean they love you less, but simply that they love God more. It is okay to be sad and maybe even scared. It is probable that your child feels the same. I believe this is why Jesus gives his disciples this encouraging promise in Mark 10:29, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Parent, you don’t have to put on a brave face; God knows your heart and sympathizes with you! He sent his Son to die on the cross, His only son left heaven to come and die, God abandoned Jesus on the cross, but He also raised him up and gave him the name above all names three days later. By letting your children go to the world, you are participating in the great commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Parent, I truly believe that great blessing to you will follow great obedience as you share in the sufferings of Christ by letting your children go.
So, (a), (b), and (c), welcome to Mountain Project! Welcome to life! Enjoy the ride, but remember life is short. However, eternity is forever.