|johnson with crock (area director) & tripp (new east teammie + johnson's bestie)|
|one heck of carrboro young life team.|
I was flattered when Jordan asked me to write for her blog, primarily because I’m just some loud, all-over-the-place freshman that stares in amazement every time I read one of her blog posts (Even Jordan’s YL teammate and one of my best friends, Tripp, will tell you that every time Jordan has a new post, he’ll receive a text message from me that reads, “Well….Jordan did it phenomenally….again.”)
I was actually planning to write about how I seriously underestimated the amount of cool people in college. (I make that claim jokingly, but I also claim it honestly.) The Lord has astounded me with people at UNC that I never ever thought I would be friends with; in His grace, He has stuck me in the middle of communities where I am consistently encouraged and surrounded by the Gospel. But, in the midst of writing about my naïve underestimation, I felt like I wanted to share what I have written below, because it has been something that I have been wrestling with lately – do I really believe that my Heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe, looks down on me and all my imperfection and calls me Beloved?
I was recently placed as a Young Life leader at Carrboro High School, and I absolutely love it. In fact, I have even told friends that I became a Carrboro Jaguar fan more quickly than I became a Tar Heel fan. It has been an honor, just in the past few months, to live life with my few high school friends at Carrboro. All throughout my senior year, however, I tossed and turned over the question of whether or not I should be a Young Life leader. I was the epitome of the YL guru at my high school in Raleigh, but, if I’m totally honest, the thought of being a leader scared me sideways……………....until I had the opportunity to lead the freshmen guys at Sharp Top Cove, a YL camp in Georgia, for a week last summer.
And here begins the heart of my post.
Let’s go back to Sharptop. Something about that place is purely magical. Must’ve been why that crazy man dressed as a magician on stage kept screaming, “FLY MAGIC BIRD!” I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. I’ve never been challenged so strongly in my life. I’ve never smiled so big, prayed so hard, laughed as loud, cried so fast in my life. The Holy Spirit does work there. He just does it. And it is amazing to be a part, to be a spectator, to sit back and watch as the spiritual “magic” unfolds.
You fill a wide range of roles as a leader at a Young Life camp. A coach. An alarm clock. A waiter. A “free milkshake” buyer. Through it all, though, you’re a cheerleader. You’re your guys’ biggest fan from the moment they finally get out of bed until the moment they crash back asleep in the wee-hours of the night.
To the kid whose legs are shaking as he balances the wire on the ropes course? His biggest fan. To the kid who has never had a family style meal and is still shocked that the food is always all-you-can-eat? His biggest fan. To the kid who hits a Grand Slam in wiffle ball? His biggest fan. To the kid who purposefully walks slower down the mountain so he can release all of his hidden disappointment and frustration about his brokenness? His biggest fan. To the kid who falls asleep during the club talks? His biggest fan. To the kid who cries in cabin time but won’t say a word? His biggest fan.
You don’t care about bedhead, about morning breath, about lack of deodorant, about dirty socks, dirty bathrooms, dirty cabins. Forget about burps, about smells, about sunburn, about stains. Toss away the reputations, the judgments, the bad decisions, the baggage. At the end of the day – and quite frankly the beginning and the middle – you genuinely desire that they know Jesus, the loving Creator of the universe. And all those idiosyncrasies and mishaps suddenly disappear in the midst of The Light – The Light that has rescued you from the shadows of death. It is because of the Marvelous Light that we act this way. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.[John 1:4]
What’s perhaps the coolest thing about all of this, you know, is that Jesus is our Number 1 Fan. We wake up, and He’s already been cheering for us. We go to sleep, and He doesn’t stop cheering for us. He is cheering for us as He wipes the slate of all our wrongs completely clean. Though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be washed white as snow.[Isaiah 1:18] Brokenness, shame, fear, guilt – GONE. He’s our biggest fan.
We’re the kid who thinks he can balance on the ropes course without a harness. We’re the kid who greedily wants more and more of the food at His table. We’re the kid who hit the Grand Slam and thinks he’s the coolest man to walk the earth because of it. We’re the kid who breaks down because we keep failing at trying to fix our own brokenness. We fall asleep when during the important moments, and we cover up our tears to act like nothing’s there.
We let our imperfections swallow us in shame and guilt, attempting to hide our brokenness from those surrounding us. But our Heavenly Father, the Triune God, looks down from all of His splendor and doesn’t see our bedhead of anger, doesn’t smell our morning breath of dishonesty, looks past the dirty socks and wet clothes of business that clutter our lives, and smiles approvingly at us when we feel like the stains of our past are too noticeable to disregard. He carried those burdens for us when He hung on the cross, died for our sin, and victoriously rose again – defeating death – three days later.
Throughout it all, Jesus is still our biggest fan. He’s sitting in the stands at every game, cheering us on when we hit the home run and when we strike out. He showers us with grace like rain and covers us with love immeasurable. He supports us, and cheers us on proudly, through and through. He’s yelling our name loudly. He wants us to succeed, and He’s encouraging us all along the way. He wants us to run towards Him, the One who makes all things new. He calls us through the Gospel, so that we may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.[2 Thessalonians 2:14]
Do I hear Him cheering, calling my name?
“You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [Mark 1:11]