The Gospel of John describes Jesus, His life, works (miracles), death and resurrection. Think of it as John writing about His best friend Jesus. The book of Acts follows and is the Word in motion after His death. It is His works continued by the Apostles. It’s doing the Word. A living body of Christ in many parts, coming together. Giving all of oneself for the good of the whole. Just like Jesus gave His life so that we may live.
So my question is, what does it look like to live out the Bible? Recently it’s been on my heart to think deeper than just reading the Word, learning the scripture. We must live it, breathe it and be the Bible. It would be awkward to go about our days just reciting Scripture, so we need to live as if our actions are the words coming to life. As if every person we interact with is reading the Word just by spending time with us. (With that we need to remember we are just a vessel for the Word.)
In John 17 Jesus prays to His Father above and says that He has prepared a way for us to follow through Him. His Works and love, travel and obedience to His Father. Acts is very much about how the Holy Spirit moves and how we must continue Jesus’ work. (2:42 “and they devoted themselves to the apostles, teaching and the fellowship, to breaking of bread and the prayers.” 4:32 “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”)
A personal struggle of mine is selfishness and arrogance. But God has once again brought me to my knees and shown me that my accomplishments are His first. So, we find ourselves again and again having to re-surrender to God and His glory. Especially if we want to teach middles school kids. They hear a sermon at church weekly, many times after being forced there. What they need is to see a sermon. This should be the goal of our ministry. The teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread. And also that we are all one heart and our common thread is how Jesus is the center of our lives. Not the jobs we come from, the music we listen to, or the phones we have. Without the Father the world wouldn’t turn.
That’s why I felt on my heart the need to bridge the lessons in John with the book of Acts which is very much instructions on how to practically follow the movement of the Holy Spirit without Jesus in the flesh here to guide us. We need to be grounded in Jesus’ perfect life rather than how we measure up to the world.
Preface: I want to make this blog post the least amount of passive aggressive as possible.
Here’s the deal: I am 8 weeks away from finishing 2 AmeriCorps terms. That’s 22 months. Several thousand hours of service. A few hundred homes and a few weeks of cross country travel. I will be ending my term in San Diego, California at the Rebuilding Together National Conference surrounded by my peers. What am I taking away from 2 years of service?
Leadership and real job skills to start, because unlike some of my AmeriCorps peers I was not treated like an “intern.” I was given the authority to make moves and manage large scale construction projects. I am leaving with a voice, a purpose, a passion and a plan. A destination: Denver.
But what I also gained from this experience is a family. Not by blood. I didn’t become best friends with all the AmeriCorps members I served with, but there are about 15 people I can honestly say without a doubt that I would do almost anything for. And I think they would reciprocate that for me.
If we look deeper there are 5 or 6 girls that I would say are inseparable. And it’s funny I was talking with Sarah about those friends who are best friends but you never thought you’d even be friends with them at all. I mean the odds were stacked against what happened. To be from 3 completely different, VERY different parts of the country. We never should’ve of even met. To have VERY different “styles,” (which is a dumb word). And to have started on a rude foot. (My bad.)
But as with all things in my life, I can say that God brought these people into the picture. That and a lot of alcohol and long hard days of work. I started CapacityCorps 4 weeks after graduating college. I was terrified, but I went into the program with no expectations and an open mind. And let me tell you, I’m glad I did because there was no way you can predict the shit storm that transpires when you put 32 20somethings together for 2 weeks and tell them to work together. So, to the person who said they hoped to find a bunch of like-minded girls to be friends with and was pissed when they got the “glam squad” you obviously didn’t take the time to invest. You didn’t go in with an open mind; you let the outward appearance block real conversations from happening. And I’m a little sad for you.
I don’t wear make-up, I’m shy and my favorite outfit is a t-shirt, a flannel, jeans and some Vans, but I became best friends with a Miami club girl, a cat lover and a “Colorado Native” party girl, if we’re going off of what you see on the surface. And without getting into our deep g-chat conversations that transpired over 10 months and still do today, you’ll find a group of ladies who are deeply committed to changing the world through love, laughs, service, travel and a few good beers. Okay many beers. They love America and see how blessed we are to have what we have even when it’s not a lot. I’ve laughed with them, cried, gotten angry. But really, all I’ve done is life with them. The things I’ve learned from these girls I cherish deeply since I don’t have sisters. And it’s probably true; we never would’ve been friends if we had met in the halls of a high school. But life in the real world is not high school. It’s for those who are willing to let down their walls, show who they truly are and move past the front facade.
So, to end my rant: what I gained most from AmeriCorps is perspective. The world is so much bigger than the place you come from. Friendship goes deeper than what your favorite reality show is. We are not all that different, we are all human and we all seek to be understood, to understand and at the very foundation to survive with our dignity intact…most of the time. I am so grateful that I was able to serve in AmeriCorps and this will be an experience that no one, NO ONE can ever take from me. I went in 2 years ago as an awkward 21 year old who just graduated from a small liberal arts college and what I’m coming out of is a strong 23 year old woman with lifelong friends, kick ass construction skills and most importantly true passion and a voice that can’t be shaken. I know what I stand for so don’t fuck with me or my people. And yes I’m still awkward.
Yesterday I found out that I have been accepted at the Denver Seminary. I will be moving to Colorado in January to start a Masters in Outdoor Leadership. I have so many feelings, but to sum it up, God is good and brings us where we need to be in His time.