Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Point of Reference

This term can mean a host of different things. According to Wikipedia, there are two versions of a Point of Reference:

General Usage
Physics Usage

Physics is a very specific science revolving around math and formulas. It's essential for understanding how our universe works in a precise manner.
General? It's a bit more complicated, but in short, it can refer to a relational, emotional, sensory-driven, idealized point. Basically, one object, moment, event, person has led to another.

I don't remember the context precisely, but someone was asking is there a particular moment when you saw God's kingdom at work? A point of reference, indeed.

The first thing I that popped into my mind? Washington Family Ranch, a million miles from nowhere, Oregon. It's a beautiful Young Life camp, where thousands upon thousands of teenagers and adults alike have come to have "the best week of their life," and encounter Jesus for the first time and felt His redeeming embrace. Here's a promo video of the camp: Washington Family Ranch Promo Video

This area, actually, has it's own redemption story. These grounds were the home of the notorious, cult-like figure Rajneesh, which you can read about here. Basically, a guru from India bought this large area of land in the early-mid 80's to manipulate a host of blind followers, and was truly a campground for the kingdom of darkness.

Years after the US government shut them down, Young Life got the opportunity to buy this piece of land, and turn it around for God's kingdom. It's a wonderful story.

Why do I think of this place? I was camper here through my church as a high schooler, and have brought hundreds of students here as a leader myself. In 2011, the church where I interned in Sherwood had the opportunity to have this ENTIRE place to ourselves, around 125 people, students and leaders and work crew included. To give you an idea, this place can house 800 students, easily.

So what's my Point of Reference? The very first night we arrived. After months of planning, recruiting leaders, miraculous last-minute sign-ups of students we haven't seen in years, and long bus rides later, we had 100 students from Sherwood, Oregon there, worshiping together as the Body of Christ.

That was the last time I had actual tears of joy streaming down my face.

All of that work added up to this moment, when students can meditate and think through the Gospel without distractions (cell phones didn't work out there, and wireless was password-protected). In that moment, it's like Jesus said "You did well, Win.... I'll take it from here."

I think of that moment because it brings me joy knowing that anyone, new and old, will be hearing the Gospel. I grew up in the church, and there were times I just tuned out when I heard about Jesus being nailed to a cross and raising from the dead... but now I realize that it truly is THE GREATEST story ever told. It's that kind of moment when Jesus says "I got this," and the relief of knowing He's the one doing the planting and growing, and it humbles me to ashes. Next to the power of Christ, I can do jack-squat. It's a reminder to me that I am not worthy to proclaim His good news, but Jesus chose me anyway.

I have endless stories of my time in youth ministry that will stay with me forever. The best word I can conjure to sum up that experience? Gratitude. I'm grateful that my King let me work in His kingdom.

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