Saturday, November 30, 2019

Fear would be a good word for it.

A shot of the horizon at UTD. More on why I put this picture here below!

"Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
    whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind,
    or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
    the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning,
    and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
    whether this or that,
    or whether both will do equally well."
Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. 
‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, 
harvesting where you have not sown 
and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. 
See, here is what belongs to you.’"
Matthew 25:24-25

Lately, I've had the feeling that something was holding me back from engaging with God, with people, and with the tasks I have in front of me. I've gotten the sense from God (and been told by friends) that the best thing I could do in this situation was to choose not to focus on my own inner concerns, but to focus on two things: to understand and love Him and to give love and nurturing to others. Ironically enough, the one prayer that I've prayed the most in the past 3 years has been to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love people like Jesus did. 

So, I decided to try to focus on that, rather than attempting to solve my problems through introspection (a favorite pastime of mine). Instead of focusing on how I should pray, I began to focus on going back to the drawing board for a richer understanding of who Jesus is. Instead of focusing on how I should love, I began to focus on who was around me and what their needs were. 

Then, I found myself alone in a car for two hours on a rainy night this week, driving to a Thanksgiving gathering. Finally, in some time with God in the car, I got some clarity on the situation. 

The common thread holding me back from engaging with God, people, tasks, goals, and presence was fear. 
Fear of letting the guys I meet with arrive at the end of the year unchanged. 
Fear of slipping into old attitudes and habits. 
Fear of wasting a meeting, a sermon, a blog, or even a semester. 
Fear of falling back into anxiety.
Fear of drifting away from God.
Fear of God turning away from me. 
Fear of letting someone down. 
Fear of getting in trouble for letting someone down.

I was reminded of 1 John 4:16-18- "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
Wherever you feel fear regarding a situation or a person, there could be a tangible opportunity to push yourself toward love and toward action. 

A few important notes.
  • It hit me again during Thanksgiving break just how much I have to be grateful for. God has blessed me in too many ways to count. A specific thank-you to everyone who supports me in ministry through prayer, conversation, and donations. 
    • Another thing to be grateful for: UTD FOCUS has had a handful of baptisms in the last couple of weeks!
  • As you may have already heard, December 3rd is Giving Tuesday, and FOCUS is going to be raising donations for our annual Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser. This year, our theme for KFG is Bring the Horizon. This comes from the idea that the horizon is where heaven meets earth. When we think of the horizons for FOCUS, we think of more students from more people groups on more campuses hearing about God in a more meaningful and effective way. As FOCUS seeks to reach more campuses in the DFW Metroplex and send out more missionaries onto those campuses, we find ourselves in more and more need for financial support. This year, we've raised $36,000 in matching funds, so please mark your calendar for December 3rd and give on!
  • While filming a promo video for KFG, I dropped my phone from the fifth story of a parking garage, and somehow, it didn't break! Praise God for that!

Paul and Luke are two guys in my peer team. Paul (left) is on staff at his church and a leader in FOCUS, in addition to working separate jobs in social media advertising. He's incredibly hardworking, and I don't think I've ever heard him complain. Luke (right) hopes to serve God in the medical field and is mature well beyond his years. Both of these guys are enormously insightful into scripture and into the guys in their core.

This is Josh. He's not actually as serious as he looks in this photo. I've gotten the privilege of meeting with him for 3 out of his 4 years of college. He's bold, tender, wise, and uncomfortably intelligent, and God has done some awesome things in him and through him in his time at UTD.

Andrew is new to my peer team this year. He's generous, wise, funny, and unique, and he loves God's Word. Also, you can tell by the way this picture is taken from below that he's pretty tall.
I didn't know Tim very well before this year, but he is leading a small group with my friend Jack, and I've gotten to know him quite a bit better this year. He's smart, insightful, and fierce in his work ethic and love for others. He's killing it in that dress shirt.

John has been my roommate for the last 3 semesters, and he's in my peer team this year. On top of that, he's quickly becoming a good friend of mine. He has a natural intuition and love of Scripture (plus a heart to grow in that), a totally out-of-left-field sense of humor (he's had me rolling on the ground in laughter multiple times), and a loyal, teachable heart. On top of that, he's grown so much in using his gifts to love and minister to others.