Hey GUYS!!!!! Wow I know you missed me so much…the end of summer was stressful, emotional, exciting, no exhilarating is a better word, but basically I decided to use all that as an excuse to not write any end of the summer posts…UNTIL NOW!
OK, so first off, below is the song that I dubbed my “anthem” for the summer. Please listen to it I think it will do a far better job explaining what God did in my life than I personally can.
Now…if you did not watch it that’s ok you’re just disobedient and I’m mad at you (nah your fine but that song is amazing and you should go back to it if you can). But what you’re quickly going to find out is that God came to me this summer in so many beautiful, challenging, and big ways!
I would say “telephone” is a great word that encapsulates my summer. Most of you know that a phone call is what got me to LT in the first place. Without Diane Gress calling me asking me to small group lead, I don’t know if I would’ve found a good reason or motivation in my heart to go where God was calling me to go (he probably would’ve found another way to get me to go but Diane’s call is what did it so I went). Later in the summer a phone call with my mom revolutionized the way I viewed my past, and allowed me to push past a painful situation and begin to allow God full access into the messy bits of my heart. I had multiple phone calls with a man named Vivake Baranwal about long distance relationships, boundaries, and just life in general and am super stoked to continue meeting with him throughout this year. A little background on Vivake! Vivake is a man at our church currently working through seminary with a goal of becoming a pastor here in Columbus, he and his now wife long distance dated for 4 years, and he has been a pivotal leader for the West campus team (my team) for at least 5 years! I was beyond ecstatic when he asked me if I would enjoy meeting up with him more consistently this semester (duh who wouldn’t???)
You all know why this next word means so much to me…MOUNTAINS!
Yeah I hiked quite a few mountains :). I summited 7 different 14ers, one of which I did twice which brings the finally tally to 8 hikes above 14,000 feet. I summited a much smaller mountain pass (still 13,000 feet but that’s small guys come on), I hiked to a lake, I hiked nine mile mountain I think 3 times maybe 4…and summited the first peak of snow mountain! Now that I am done showing off, I can point it all back to God and humbly renounce my pride.
God, without fail, met me high up in those mountains every time I went. On my first hike I got to have some really great conversations with Nate Smith who became a very vocal, encouraging, and bold member of my small group this summer. On another hike I had a deep encouraging and convicting conversation with Chris Daulton as we discussed how we approached fighting temptation and living a life focused on the Lord. On another I had a deep time of worship and self reflection as I hiked down which brought me to tears as I dwelled on the immense love and grace the Lord had been pouring out on me. On another I got to spend priceless quality time with a beautiful woman who I would end up dating, and on yet another I got to push my physical limits as Brendan and I seemingly raced up nine mile mountain in an impressive 16 minutes! On and on God used exhaustion, his beautiful creation, and godly people, to meet me personally, and grow me closer to him. The biggest theme I got from these hikes was acknowledging that they mirror our spiritual walks with the Lord. The path to Jesus and heaven is rough, narrow (look up what the narrows are on Long’s Peak and you’ll get to see how narrow and dangerous the path really can be sometimes), and exhausting. But the reward at the end is breathtaking. But with that breathtaking reward comes the descent, which on some hikes, (longs peak) proved more challenging than the ascent. In the same way we ascend to spiritual heights of refreshment and nourishment from the Lord, only to then take that renewed strength back into the broken world to love and serve those who are lost. Im currently praying over whether or not to make it my life goal to summit all the 14ers in Colorado…let me know your thoughts on this plan :).
So I know you guys would love to hear a little more about this next word so I will share a little bit about Zuri.
Let me make this crystal clear because this is what makes this so fun and exciting. I, in no way went into this summer expecting, planning, or looking for a relationship to come out of it…you’ll read below about how I had a lot of personal fears and insecurities that I had yet to address and knew I needed to process them this summer, and I never imagined God would want me to pursue a relationship in the midst of that processing. However, God allowed me to run into Zuri my first night at LT (though all that came of that meeting were some really nasty chicken wings that her and Alyssa had bought at the store). I later found out that Zuri also had zero interest in a relationship this summer, while Alyssa had been predicting she’d meet and start dating an Ohioan.
Our first big get to know each other moment occurred on a long drive to Denver to pick up one of the men in my small group. Zuri and Alyssa really know how to ask good questions, and we all got to learn things from our favorite food all the way to getting into deep conversations about how the Lord had moved in our lives leading up to LT. It was after this drive that we both began to realize we really enjoyed each others company…but we both were in complete denial of any other feelings that might be arising. Well that didn’t last long and through prayer and petition (this is so christian and cliche but really there was a lot of prayer involved in this decision) we ended up getting coffee on a lovely Colorado morning, which lead to a second date, which lead to more dates, and now I find myself dating this wonderful, godly woman, who lives 17 hours away. Though that makes things incredibly difficult, I know that every phone date, email, letter, is going to be incredibly intentional and I am so excited to get to know her from afar (also really excited to visit in October…oh yeah I definitely already have a countdown on my phone). Please be praying for communication and growth in this relationship as it progresses this semester.
Ok I know that was cute and all, but now things are going to get a little heavier. The next word I believe encapsulates my summer is redemption (grace could easily go right along with this but redemption is the better choice). My insecurities far too many times got the best of me this summer as I wrestled with the truth of this word. I began this summer getting a very strong calling to full time ministry, I still don’t know exactly what route God has planned for that and the unknown only added to my fears. As I began to discern this calling to commit my life fully to Jesus and the church, I constantly was reminded of my mistakes and failures in life. The enemy would reminded of my failures with purity, anger, pride, selfishness, disobedience, drunkenness, cursing, and about how broken I was, am, and will continue to be. The enemy never ceased to bring up these thoughts in my head and try to make me believe I am unworthy of any of the plans God has for me. “You’re not capable of being a small group leader“, “You’re not worthy of pursuing full time ministry“, “You’re not good enough to date and pursue a godly, beautiful woman“, “You’ll never be fully healed so why even try?“. Now this is where God really came this summer and reminded me of the truth that overcomes all these things (if you listened to that song here is where it all comes in). He reminded me that all those lies, all those mistakes, and the ones to come, will never disqualify me from my sonship under him. With Jesus every tainted, broken, messy piece is polished, repaired, and made clean, so that I can, God willing, one day be in full time ministry, so that I can pursue a godly relationship, so that I can be a small group leader, and so that I can live a life that is devoted to Jesus and his calling for me! Hebrews 9:14 sums this all up saying, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”. That’s what I was reminded of this summer, and that is what I will continue to run back to as I enter back into life at THE Ohio State University.
SO WHAT NOW?!?!?!?!?! (a few updates of where my life is going this semester)
First, I just slept my second night in my new house which is filled with 5 godly men who are all incredibly different and it’s going to be freaking amazing!!! Next I am taking all online classes this semester so that I can successfully complete basic leadership course (BLC) in September with hopes of being promoted to sergeant sometime this fall! I also have committed to small group leading now on campus which is going to be yet again a huge way for God to move through me and in me as we run after him like crazy. I look around campus and if you did not know there are no mountains here….crazy I know….so I plan on hopefully finding a way to have some sort of like refuel time each month where I go to maybe to like hocking hills, or red river gorge, to seek solo time with Jesus like I did in Colorado. UHHH that about sums up what this semester will look like. I am super stoked to have a lot of time on my hands (online class perks) in order to more intentionally meet up with some of the men in my small group. I am also very excited to have a few older men pouring into me more consistently because I know God has a lot of plans for my life and there is absolutely no way I will be able to figure out anything without insight from others. Ok now I think thats about it…I am not yet sure if I will continue to be this consistent with my blog but stay tuned you’ll probably hear from me some more this semester! GO BUCKS!!!!! Also gig em I feel like I gotta support her school too but mostly GO BUCKS!!!!