Yesterday, I spent the day at home preparing my small suitcase for a trip to Mozambique, Africa. I’m going on a journey to see how youth ministry has been activated and inspired in Kingdom of God ways through the initiatives of the 30 Hour Famine. As I look at my bag I think it’s funny how things change. How little we actually need. I much I used to think I needed for things to “work”.
It’s still hurts my brain some to think that just a few short months ago I was wondering what life would be like if I exchanged my idea of youth ministry for God’s idea of youth ministry. That exchange has changed so much in our lives. The contrast between the two doesn’t mean that one is better than another, but the contrast is showing me some things that I would never have been able to see otherwise. There is one thing that I am convinced of now more than ever and it’s that bravery builds bridges.
I made a decision to try unconventional youth ministry, to leave everything that I felt I was really good at, to find out what good God wanted me to be a part of. I have never felt more uncertain and most certain at the same time.
My dad told me yesterday after a 16 hour drive to see us. “Brookie, do you know how long it’s been since I’ve felt hunger? Ten years….I felt hungry driving to see you yesterday. For the first time I let myself feel hunger.”
I think bravery is like that. You don’t really experience it’s side effects until you do something brave. You may not think it to be brave move at the time but you know that it is when you’ve wrestled with doubt and make decisions that are firm and you can’t really mid-jump decide to head back to the other side. In that knowledge you realize that you’re “out there in it” and that you need all of Jesus and less of you.
That’s when you feel brave. I felt this when we left Ohio to move to Florida. So far way from everything we had ever known. I felt this way just moments before both of my children were born. I promise you I didn’t feel brave in that moment. Not at all! It’s like you look at the situation and decided “this is it” and brave becomes something you didn’t know you had and builds a bridge to the other side.
We know that we aren’t alone. That we’ve got people holding our hands and God holding our hearts. It’s a crazy place to be. And I feel it again.
My dad hasn’t had a drink in 9 days.
He’s starting to see what brave feels like too. And now, I feel like I can sort of walk with him in similar feelings. I will never know how he feels. But now I know the pain of saying goodbye to something you’ve given your life too (good or bad or somewhere in between, we feel these ties). We decide to go brave. And when we do, that very thing, that bravery growing in you builds bridges that we could never see before and takes us to places we could never reach.
That’s what I’m excited about. That’s what I’m praying about. That youth ministry would see the potential that Jesus us gives us every day–to build bridges too–and to see with new eyes, all that can be.
I was born brave.
So were you.
God didn’t create us to be filled with shame.
God’s design was for us to be shameless.
But we exchanged bravery for lies.
Courage for sin.
And we hid.
Until that day, when Jesus dressed in courage and came to us.
Showing us what it looks like to be exposed in love.
Bravery is made of bridges.
Jesus became one.
For us to return.
To the bright porch, the light still flickering.
For us to receive beautiful clothing.
For us to celebrate our return.
In that celebration we go brave again.
We become shameless.
We exchange fear for faith.
Freedom is born.
And we become able to do brave things
inner lines of gratitude burst loose to show the each other that God’s love is real.
That every broken thing is loved and wanted.
That God is maintaining the cause of those in need.
It happens in you.
It happens in me.
It happens in youth ministry.
We’re the brave church knit together by a brave LOVE.
We thank the one and only Jesus.
For this one and only chance.
To be whole.
To be alive.
To work and thrive as the church.
To believe and imagine.
Brave as possibility.