I've been going to this church, and I have been pretty excited about it. Honestly it's the first time since the church I grew up in back in New Smyrna that I feel like I belong and people know me. The only problem is that it's been hard for me to get over this self-pity thing that I struggle with (along with feeling timid and embarrassed) and let God use me to serve in the church. Yesterday I went to a retreat the church had for servers. I think essentially I was invited because I'm with Daniel (who is like their favorite because he can do everything in sound and music areas) and, ok, so I have helped out a little with the children's sunday school and once or twice with the powerpoint during worship. But I'm not a server. I hold back and just wait for people to find something for me to do that doesn't require me to speak too much Spanish or for too many people to be looking at me at once. So anyways, I went to this retreat and I felt pretty dumb. I didn't know to which group of servers I belonged and I didn't have anything to say when we talked about what we wanted to "plant" for this new year in the church because I don't even know where my area is. Once again, I realize I'm feeling like a baby Christian... needing to be spiritually fed and guided instead of ready to pour out and love people like God wants from me. I decided to skip church today and take advantage of a quiet house and the chance to listen to some sermons in English. Two sermons later, I'm feeling heaps better. Pastor Mike from First Assembly of Gainesville preached a sermon called "mission" that spoke directly to my heart and where I'm at right now. He (well, God) reminded me of the most basic and essential element of my faith that I somehow had lost track of--that it's based on God's grace and my faith and not on any performance on my part. He helped me see that although Christianity shares several common principles and ethical rules with many other dominant world religions, it is different in one way. The one thing that makes it all make sense, and leaves me no choice but to choose this faith as my own, is that those principles and ethics aren't what matter. That a performance-based salvation system doesn't make sense because somewhere there has to be a line drawn to show how good is good enough. But with Jesus... he is the cut-off line. It begins and ends with Him. He blesses the 'poor in spirit' and not only those who have it all together. THAT is why Christianity is different. And today, that is what He showed me. That I can't wallow in that self-pity anymore because it's not, and nver was, about my performance. I even wonder if moving here (and to Mexico) was rooted a little bit in my need to perform for Him. To reassure myself that I was doing something worthwhile. However, it's not about doing anything. Jesus already did it all.
But it's funny how a whole sermon about not being able to "perform" enough for Jesus makes me so fired up to do something, anything, in His name. It's funny how the only thing required of us is to turn around and look to Jesus... and yet the simple act of doing that makes all that other stuff--serving, helping, loving on others--so desirable.
So, come on people...let's get it out of our heads that we've got to pull ourselves together in order to be good enough for God. He decided to love us and die for us when he knew we were utter crap. Knowing that he sees more than crap when he looks at me gives me what I need to make it through this day, and hopefully many more.