Nov 21, 2007

nywc - atlanta: retrospective

So the ride home was pretty cool... first we said goodbye to my buddy Scott, and then ten hours with my other buddies and co-laborers Mike and Jon. This was their first convention like this, and so debriefing on the way home was a lot of fun. We hit a Sonic, listened to some new CDs, talked about some logistics about our church's move into a new facility, laughed out loud at an audio of comedian Jim Gaffigan, and took some leaps together spiritually about the stuff that matters. I know these guys better than when we started the trip, and I'd guess they know me better, too.

Here's what's interesting, though. In years past when I've gone to these conventions there's often this big WOW moment for me with God that I take away. Sometimes I have to fight for it, and other times it just sort of falls into my lap (and feet) in the middle of nowhere. This year, though, it was different. Time has passed, and while I am still in love with Jesus and the future of the Church (and believe students play a huge role in that), I found myself more of a giver and less of a taker this round.

It crystalized for me during Louie Giglio's talk... Louie was wrapping up his message and asked the a question to the effect of, "Maybe you're in one of the darkest moments of your life..." and then this guy in the crowd stood up (before Louie even finished the sentence).

I remember thinking, "Wow. That guy's probably hurting... someone should put their hand on his shoulder." This thought started in my head while I was in my chair but by the time I finished it I realized I was already on my way over to him. After several rounds of "excuse me" to get to him, I found myself praying with/for this guy I didn't know.

Within moments, others were standing in the room... a very powerful moment. As I looked around I realized that there are a lot of people today who are where I was not that long ago. I'm realizing more and more each day that the trials I've gone through aren't just for me but for others... while the do produce in me a certain kind of empathetic compassion, they also should create a kind of action through my life that helps restore lives as Jesus works through me.

Sometimes... this is hard. Sometimes... I only have so much to give. Sometimes... I don't want to.

And yet... there I was, floating out of my seat before my brain even realized it. Then there was that guy whom I spoke with during the middle of the night in the hotel lobby... and that homeless guy I was compelled to help without thinking about it.

I'm not sharing that to pat myself on the back... far from it. Rather, as I look back on where I've come from I think it's something God's using to influence where I'm at today.

I hope that's a good thing.

God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me— my whole life one long, obedient response. Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway! Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way. Affirm your promises to me— promises made to all who fear you. Deflect the harsh words of my critics— but what you say is always so good. See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways! (Psalm 119:33-40, MSG)


Brian Eberly said...

That is truly the beautiful side of trials. I often marvel at how God uses my past difficult times to be a blessing to others now.

Todd Porter said...

Tony, something you said to me in passing really connected with me and after I am done processing it somewhat I will have to contact you.


Tony Myles said...

Rock on... sure thing.