Monday, July 4, 2016

ministry in the meantime: the honor of loving other peoples' kids

Today is an odd day. The 4th of July, yes, but today "meantime" takes on a whole different meaning. A year has already passed since our friend, Devin, went to be with Jesus; celebrating ultimate freedom.

In so many ways, we all live in a meantime. A meantime until reuniting with loved ones in heaven. A meantime before Jesus comes back, heals every possible break and sickness the world suffers, and breathes eternal resurrection for us.

But until that day, the meantime is also full of ache and loss. The longer we live, the more we experience death and devastation. Heartbreak abounds.

As I think about a life in professional ministry, in so many ways it's a life of walking through peoples' greatest joys and pains with them, reassuring them that the anchor holds steady regardless. In ministry to college students, this is highly concentrated. High highs, low lows, enthusiastic and excited hellos, and fearful, excited, and sad good-byes. Life is beautifully and richly intense in college and college ministry.

Today I'm grateful for that, because it means I got to know Devin well in just a year--as our student worker, one of our Nicaragua team leaders, a regular chapel musician, and a student I knew would always be up for taking someone else under his wing (his tutelage, as he might say). I'm grateful for these touch points that allowed me to walk with Devin, see God's incredible workmanship in him, and be able to give thanks for him with others on days like today.

Ministry and just life in general is full of heartbreak. Sometimes overwhelmingly so. We don't go through deep water alone, though. And I find it to be true that heartbreak only happens after love has already showed up. We ache because we've known something good, someone who mattered. It doesn't make the ache less, but it's given worth and honor as proof of love.

A few weeks after Devin had passed away, I got to go to a cookout at his mom's house. I was grateful to see Devin's home, all the photos she had, and the stories shared from family and friends through smiles and tears. Before I left, I told her how much of a gift her son was to me, to our Nica team, and to our campus community and that she would've been proud to see how he walked his daily life. I thanked her for welcoming us into her home and sharing her heart and her hospitality with us.

She simply responded, "thank you for loving my son."

My meantime is full of college relationship drama, tanking classes, mental health struggles, spiritual wandering, so much processing through fear, discussing career choices and poor choices, and so much showing up just to do life together, praying they see Jesus and how crazy about them He is. Most days are life giving as I escort students through transformation, and some days are just plain heavy.

However, I see all the meantime ache becomes worthwhile, when I am reminded what a privilege it is to walk with and love peoples' kids as they are trying out being adults. 

It's a life that truly is an adventure. Whatever your meantime adventure is, I pray you make it worth it and show up with love for people. People are the biggest and best adventures. I'm grateful our adventures crossed, Devin.