I’m not sure where we got this borderline-offensive idiom from, but I sure do know the meaning of it! Admittedly this has been a difficult year for Beth and I. We’ve had some health troubles, financial troubles, stress troubles, and various other troubles. Things have been pretty good in the past couple of months, but as sad as we are to see our seniors graduate, there is a sense that we are looking forward to getting this year in our rear-view mirror. Yet I learned this past Thursday at our last Large Group event of the year that the year of God doing amazing things in people’s hearts isn’t over until it’s over.
Our last Large Group is a bit of a Senior Night. We take some time to invite underclassmen to come and pray for our seniors as we send them out, and Beth or I always give a talk aimed specifically at those who are leaving us. This year was no different. I gave our seniors a stiff and encouraging charge from 2 Timothy 3:10-4:8. I encouraged them, as Paul encouraged Timothy, to lean hard into the sacred Scriptures which are breathed out by God and profitable for correction and teaching, and able to make one wise unto salvation-as a graduate myself, I know how much they need it! I also encouraged them, again, as Paul encouraged Timothy, to preach the word, the good news of Jesus Christ when we are prepared, and when we aren’t expecting the opportunity, and to watch carefully our doctrine, being sure that we do not just gather false teachers that will say the things our itching ears will want to hear-“endure sound doctrine” is the way Paul put it.
As I expected to be led in worship one last time by the students who have led this group in musical worship all year, a young woman we’ll call Amy came up next to me trembling a bit and just stood there. I asked if she was ok and if she wanted to talk about anything…Thirty minutes later I was wishing “Amy” a great summer, telling her that I looked forward to seeing her again in August. Amy was not a senior, but Amy was confronted from the Scriptures we were studying with the nearly unbelievable good news that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone!
She recounted to me her religious upbringing, and how much of it was focused on doing good and trying to please God and to make sure that you don’t do or say anything that will forfeit the ‘blessings’ you’d earned along the way. As she’d been coming the last few weeks, she’d realized that what the Scriptures teach is vastly different, and vastly better, than what she’d been taught about God all her life. I could see the utter relief in her teary eyes as I spoke to her “give up on yourself…the point of the law is that you can’t please God on your own…give up, and look to Christ!”
That night, I am certain, was a momentous relief for a soul burdened by the desire to please God on her own. It was also a lesson for a campus minister who expected to give a charge, cry with a couple of seniors, and go home after a fairly uneventful evening. Little did I know, while I was yawning, the Spirit was moving. I love my job, and cannot wait until August!