“This is My Son, With Whom I am Well Pleased.”
How going on mission to Australia has already taught me about God’s love for me.
one of our trip leaders mentioned that we’d only been in Perth for 72 hours. I just about spat my drink out at that; frankly it feels like we’ve been here closer to a week. I’m currently on a mission trip to Perth, Australia. Yes, this city is literally the exact opposite of Nashville on the globe.
Honestly, I came into this trip feeling a lot of pressure. Growing up, I felt a need to earn attention from people. In my mind, my friends were always saying,
“Ok, we’ll let you hang out with us just this once, but you better earn it.”
I was always afraid of saying anything un-funny or being awkward, because in my mind I would never get another shot to be with people. The assumption was that I never really deserved to be with them in the first place, but by some weird coincidence, I had a chance to earn it so long as I didn’t screw up.
I came to Lipscomb University from southern California.
People always ask why I did, and the shortest possible answer is that I got a scholarship covering all of my tuition. I remember feeling it’s burden on my shoulders during my first semester at Lipscomb.
To be honest, I always felt I never deserved the scholarship. In my mind, I needed to earn it by performing at Lipscomb. That meant doing everything on campus and being friends with everyone. However, I basically put my entire self-worth on the line, and the pressure of it caused me to shut down.
This mission trip to Perth cost $2,500,
and almost all of it was covered by people who donated to it. Coming into this trip, I felt an immense pressure to earn the right to what those people gave me. In my mind, I had to make this trip successful in some significant way because I didn’t deserve the right to be on it in the first place. I had to earn what had been donated to me.
Between jet lag and those pressures, I arrived in Perth in a strange mood. I tend to be super outgoing and engaged, but my lack of energy made me zone out and pull away from people. It was the exact same thing as with the Trustee scholarship; I pulled back into my own mind.
The last two days,
our team took a retreat in the Australian bush. At one point, we practiced a spiritual discipline by pairing up and praying for a vision for the person we were with.
I was partnered with a pastor from our church in Perth, and the vision God gave Him for me was of Jesus smiling down on me.
I have always struggled with a need to perform in order to be loved. I’ve felt that with people, but it’s carried over into my relationship with God. In many ways, I’ve seen His grace as a loan that I somehow need to pay Him back for. He essentially says, “Ok I’ll let you be my son just this once, but you better earn it.”
That couldn’t be farther than the truth. At one point, God spoke to me that I am “His Son, with whom He is well pleased.” That applies whether I’m living life at my best or my worst. I’ve been trying to perform for Him with my dreams for the future, and I’ve been trying to perform for the Lipscomb mission’s department by making this the most successful mission trip ever.
We read this passage from John 15 this morning.
4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
Jesus doesn’t say we have to bear fruit. Rather, He says we must actively abide in Him, and He’ll create fruit through us. God has shown me I don’t have to make it worth it for Him to love me, nor do I have to make this trip worth it for those who donated to it.
Rather, I get to be present with Him and with people, and He’ll work all of it together for the good of the world.
After all of that came together, I felt such a burden lift of my shoulders. I cannot express with words how excited I am to be on this trip, and to see what God does through it. He is good, and I am so stoked.