It’s been 380 days since I landed in the SEA-TAC airport, anxiously waiting to shed light on a dark abyss that I viewed as the Northwest. I remember watching people in the airport thinking, “How sad; so many people walking around having no idea the hope that is in Jesus. Good thing I’m here, giving up my whole summer to share the gospel…..” Okay so I didn’t quite think those exact things, but two major themes rang out from my heart when I landed in the Northwest.
1. I was burdened and hyper aware of so many people that most likely didn’t place their hope in Jesus; and 2. I assumed that the advancement of the gospel and Jesus’ presence was contingent on me saying yes to the call that Jesus gave me to serve my summer up there. Both motives show how I was misunderstanding the truth of the gospel. Let me explain.
The first motive seems 100% pure and in line with the gospel message. And it was on the surface, but the misunderstanding is clear as you look into my thoughts prior to stepping on that flight. When I looked around a grocery store, a restaurant, a concert, even the DFW airport hours before landing, I wasn’t at all burdened or even aware of how many people surrounding me had no idea of the hope that is in Jesus. I was selfishly holding tight to a treasure that I am simply a steward of, and was wickedly disregarding souls around me in the place that I call home by refusing to share that treasure. I looked them in the eye and said, “I don’t deem you worthy of this treasure” as if I am the judge deciding who can and cannot partake in the stewardship of the gospel. I was once empty-handed, but not forsaken by the Father and was granted the privilege of inheriting salvation and stewardship of Christ’s gospel, and so I must long to share that with anyone and everyone I meet. One of the hardest lessons that I learned in the Northwest was that I cannot choose where and when I live in urgency to share the gospel. My heart should burn at every moment, in every situation to see people saved and that it is not I who holds my tongue when the timing is not right, but the Spirit. I am a steward of the gospel and I am not to reject anyone an opportunity to hold this treasure.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” -2 Corinthians 4:7
The second motive was very evidently not in line with the gospel message because I had a mentality that I was bringing Jesus to the Northwest. In my head, my obedience determined whether or not God was going to move in the lives of these people. Now, I believe whole-heartedly in the importance of walking in obedience as the Lord calls us to do things and go places, but here is the thing: God doesn’t NEED us to be obedient IN ORDER TO move and advance His kingdom. He DESIRES for us to join Him in what He is ALREADY DOING. He wants us to join in so that we can see more of His glory, and be continually sanctified and humbled in our faith. Jesus was in the Northwest well before I got there, and He stayed when I left. The gospel is such a beautiful reminder of the fact that we don’t have to have the burden of working for our salvation, but it’s also a harsh reality that shows us how we cannot take credit for a single element of salvation, including evangelism. We cannot credit ourselves in our own salvation, and we cannot credit ourselves in the salvation of others. For the sake of corny one-liners, there is no “I” in gospel, so there is no place for me to place any burden or credibility on my own shoulders.
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” –Acts 17:24-25
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:10
Looking back a year later, I think my real call to the Northwest was for me to be transformed in my thinking. I needed to be humbled and reminded that the salvation of other people does not rest on my shoulders. However, I also needed to be reminded that God has entrusted me with this treasure, and He desires to use me as a broken vessel for His Kingdom, and that I should live burdened for people to know the hope that is Jesus. And the thing is, I didn’t lead anyone to Christ that summer. I had some people that I got to love on and pour into all summer and never was given a direct opportunity to share the full, start to finish gospel of Jesus with. But I was obedient with what the Lord gave me. And I believe that I was changed by my experiences, and I believe that the Lord moved the hearts of those I did come in contact with, and I continually pray that they would know Jesus and that the Spirit would continue sowing seeds into their hearts. I know that the Lord is faithful, and He will not let our work be in vain. All glory and honor be to Christ.
“So take this heart, Lord, I’ll be your vessel
The world to see, Your light in me.” –Hillsong Worship