Last week I had the honor of running a conference for my district’s senior pastors. It was scary and stretching and wonderful and extremely tiring. The event was in Hyannis, MA, also known as Cape Cod and we were at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa. I arrived on Wednesday midday and began to get set up with the event starting Thursday evening through Saturday at noon. By Saturday I was ready to fall sleep in the middle of the hallway… standing up straight.
So then I took a nap. A VERY LONG nap. And it was because of all these things that I was up and ready to go somewhere and interact. And I had the perfect place to go. My friend, Shaun, a fellow youth pastor, had invited me to a young adults service, The Anchor, at his church a few weeks earlier if I ever wanted to make the journey down. Seeing as it is a 2 1/2 hour drive it didn’t look likely that I would be able to make it down on a Saturday night but finding myself in the general vicinity I was able to go!
And I am very glad that I did. It was refreshing to be surrounded by other 20’s who either loved the Lord or were seeking something that can only be found in His presence. I immediately was drawn into conversation with a 20 something who talked with me about my job at the district as well as ministry. It was great to connect with people my own age from a different geographical location who love the Lord.
Then we moved into worship. Which after 3 days of hanging out with screaming babies was exactly what I needed. The presence of the Lord was there and it was a sweet, sweet sound that could be heard. I’m a sucker for worship. Like seriously I can not help but sing and lift my hands and possibly even dance. This has been the case since the moment that I gave my life to the Lord and the Lord has always challenged me to lay aside everything and to come into His presence. And so, amidst a crowd that I did not know all I found was the sweet and gentle love of my Savior. It was beautiful.
And they introduced the idea of something which they named a “Love Punk.” To punk someone is ususally play a trick on them which surprises them. The idea behind the “Love Punk” as I understood it was to surprise people with love – to brighten their day and let them know that they are loved. I have always believed that where I go is not an accident. Whether it is to starbucks for a mocha or the grocery store for groceries just because they seem to be mindless errands to me doesn’t mean that the Lord doesn’t have a plan. And so wherever I am I try to go an extra step: standing an extra 30 seconds at the door so I can hold it open for the person behind me, letting the mom behind me check out before me, being patient when something takes a little longer than I would normally like. The people are more important than my to do list and my calendar. If it happens to take more time then I’ll trust that God has it all worked out. Well the idea of these “Love Punk” cards fits right into that. How easy is it to take a few extra moments, to be a little more perceptive, to ask the Lord for prompting to write a quick word of encouragement. How easy to include it with your tip when you are at a restaurant or leave it with a note for the house cleaner? Let me answer, it’s easy although slightly uncomfortable to begin with.
The topic of the night was grace. Often people are confused about what grace is, they often mistake it for mercy. Mercy is where you deserve something (consequence) but you are saved from receiving what you deserve. Grace on the other hand is receiving what you do not deserve. Grace is a gift that you didn’t ask for, that you do not deserve, that is too good for you but is given to you regardless. It’s like giving a dirty child who decides to live in the street and play in the mud and who doesn’t own a coat to stay warm in a spotless, priceless, designer jacket. The gift will most likely get mistreated and messy but regardless of if they deserves it and if it will be taken care of, the gift is still given. That is grace.
My friend Shaun said that when you catch hold of Grace, it changes your attitude of how you live… it change the way that you react and it changes the way that you worship. How true. The gift of grace that we receive when we believe and receive Christ is what changes us from the inside out. It is what make a drunkard suddenly sober or an addict suddenly clean. Grace turns everything upside down. Why? Because God’s economy is not of this world. What we think in our flesh is enough is not but what seems like not enough amply covers. God’s grace will ALWAYS cover our weaknesses so we have no more excuses. When you are in your weakness, God is able to show up at His very best.
And wasn’t my weak last week a testimony to that very thing. My job was to make sure that this retreat went through without a hitch, that our planning came to fruition and that the pastors felt blessed and refreshed. Me. I’m 23 years old. I’m a sinner just like the rest and why would God choose me to be where I am. In the position that I am. As a pastor? I’m not worthy or capable or equipped enough. But isn’t that the very point that He has been showing me. The higher that He takes me and the more responsibility that is given is not because of me. It is because… in my weakness, which is great, He is made strong. God’s grace will cover me and HE will give me HIS strength to fulfill HIS plans. Wow. It doesn’t depend on me except for me to show up and say here I am, Fill me.
And it was with that that I walked away. Refreshed and renewed knowing that the Lord had used me in my weakness for His glory and His blessing. And that is His continued intention. I loved the idea of “Love Punk” cards and that grace had been the topic. How very fitting because another way that us in our weakness, in our small ability to understand the workings of God, can allow Him to use us, to speak through us, to love through us is evident in the “Love punk” cards.
And so I was challenged: To be intentional. To give out more love because you never know what one small love punk or smile or gentle word could mean to someone. Because really, isn’t that grace given out. What I have received so also I shall give.
Love Punk. Grace in disguise. Think about it.