Updated: Oct 8, 2019
My kids go through phases of admitting I’m their Mom on the sideline, and then glaring at me in embarrassment when I get over-excited to watch them play. With one in soccer, one in track, and one in lacrosse, I’m getting pretty used to this cheerleading gig! It is way too much fun to watch those I love playing in these organized sports – especially when they succeed!
Just a couple days ago, when my oldest daughter was chosen off the bench to replace another soccer player, I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Go Keelan!!!” Mind you, she was only just getting off the bench to talk to her coach; not even on the field yet. “Tone it down, Mom,” she was probably thinking. “Maybe you should check out one of the other kids’ games!?”
In a very real sense, my “other kids” are the students that we have spent the last nine months with here at Timberline Lodge. Their time is swiftly wrapping up, and TL class of 2019 will graduate this Friday. Our hearts are bursting with love and pride and expectation for what God is going to do through these young people when they leave us, after an intense year of studying and growing together.
My role in much of the ministry is to root on the students and staff, especially the “boss” (wink) from the sidelines, as the “wife of the Director” or the “over-invested volunteer” to some, undoubtedly. What a privilege and pleasure to watch God change lives here! I get embarrassingly excited!
Day after day, these students have been waking up together in the dorms, adventuring in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, learning the Bible, sharing their hearts, facing their pasts, recognizing their gifts, growing, changing, and healing. It’s time for them to take the baton (or the “Torch”) that Timberline is passing off, and run full speed into the next leg of their race. “How will they do,” I wonder, as a coach from the sideline, “Did we equip them well enough?”
These kids have been indoctrinated with truth from various angles – listening in Bible Class, interacting in Weekly Discipleship, serving through Outreach, and rubbing shoulders with Godly staff all year. They are starting to understand, not just with their heads, but their hearts, that God places relationship with His people as the highest priority. This year, they heard they are loved, they are valued, and their lives have purpose and potential because a loving God has a plan for them.
This great plan has, at its foundation, an ASTOUNDING truth that I didn’t understand for many years of my Christian life – that Christianity is not about religious rule-following, but about allowing God to live through us, as He intended for our good and His glory. It’s not about fighting for Jesus, but instead, FAITH in the fight He already won. This is how we are able to come to Christ at all… “by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH… not by works.” (Ephesians 2:8,9)
What an incredible truth! My salvation has nothing to do with me. My only role is to take it and say, “thank you” to our great Messiah, Jesus, who made the way. There is nothing I have done or could do to gain this great gift myself – no way to earn a place in heaven. So all that’s left to do is to marvel at His willingness to allow me the privilege to receive it.
As we pass the baton to our students this weekend and watch them leave, I’m struck with a truth that is a challenge to every Christian. Paul encourages the church in Colossae, “just as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Colossians 2:6) In other words: IN THE SAME WAY that we have come to Christ (by GRACE through FAITH); in that very same manner, we are to continue to live the Christian life!
As these students spread out from here to Germany, Australia, Canada, Africa, and all over America, I’m yelling this truth obnoxiously from the sidelines:
“Walk for Christ by GRACE through FAITH!”
“You couldn’t earn your Salvation on your own, and you can’t live the Christian life on your own, either!”
“Trust His life in you to be what you need for obedience, direction, and strength!!”
“Push on! Not to earn His love, but to be His presence in this hurting world!”
I may be obnoxious, but I sure do love these kids! Just as Paul urges his beloved friends in Colossae, and didn’t want to see them stuck striving and failing to live as perfectly as Jesus did (in their own strength), so I continue my loud, outlandish cheering.
We cannot live the Christian life, and there’s only One who can. With overwhelming gratitude, we take the gift of God’s presence and power and step into each day knowing that day has the potential of what God Almighty wants to do through our lives, whether or not it seems possible. Strivings can cease. Self-expectation can disappear. In their place, we open our hearts and our lives to the adventure God has planned, with the power He has provided.
These students have everything they need to succeed in the Christian life – namely, Christ Himself, dwelling in them through His Holy Spirit.
And I’m rooting them on!
I’m rooting for each one of us to continue in GRACE, walking in faith-filled obedience. He wants to use every step we take, every word we say, and every thing we do to show His love to this broken world.
…and because of Him, we can!