Tuesday – Beginnings
Most students made it only a few steps outside of their dorms this morning before turning around and grabbing a rain jacket. For many, that moment may have been the last mundane moment the day had to offer. Opportunity, activity, and new beginnings abounded on this lively Tuesday. Students caught their first glimpse of the old favorites Mr. Burst and Ms. Kiss, now complicated romantics, on the Morning Show. Candidates had their first opportunities to distinguish themselves during primaries and the Parties’ Party in Election Hall, complete with a candy poll, a photo booth, and a pie-an-intern opportunity. Not ten feet away, students aspiring to serve their peers as TeenPact staff sat down for their first interviews and gave testimony to the Lord’s work in their lives. Meanwhile, squads of students running around in matching shirts marked the commencement of sports, barely evading the afternoon showers. Even a year-to-year staple, Coffeehouse, gained an exciting twist as it took shelter from the rain beneath a covered plaza and became an especially crowded mixture of laughter, popcorn, music and memories.
Likewise, both speakers had students literally popping out of their seats. At one point, it seemed nearly half the auditorium had a hand in the air, wanting to get a word in with Dr. Sean McDowell, a devout Christian apologist, as he role-played as an atheist, shattering assumptions while helping us understand how little we know of the faith we treasure and how strongly our jokes, our jabs, and our critical words can deter the audience so desperately in need of our truth. Though he only had time to address a few defenses for our faith, Dr. McDowell undoubtedly inspired every student, staffer, and parent present to dig deeper and learn better how to love the great I Am we sung about in the morning, not just with our hearts and souls, but also our minds.
Similarly, Nathaneal Yellis intrigued students with all-too-familiar tales of seeking approval of fellow TeenPacters with shiny hair and pricy cameras, and also attempting to discern God’s direction in the confusing paths of life. Often only in retrospect, Nathanael noted, may we make sense of God’s work through spiritual reflection. In addition, Nathanael spoke of our freedom to be magnanimous, generous people because of God’s limitless grace. He observed, “if the truth at the center of the universe is scarce, our tendency as human beings is to try to go carve out our slice and hold on to it tightly. If, on the other hand, the truth at the center of the universe is one of abundance, that means we can approach our life with open hands, without the clutching and clinging of scarcity.” Wow. As a man so familiar with the life of a TeenPacter, Nathanael made a special connection as he prepared us for an open-handed life after TeenPact.
More and more, the words of our worship can be heard all day, replaying through minds and occasionally escaping out into subtle song. “Oh praise the name of the Lord our God” and “Who is worthy, none beside thee.” Our hope is in God. We embraced this day, filled with excitement, with fearlessness. As a body, we brought all we had to the day, and yet we find ourselves now, not completed, but more in need of God’s fullness than ever. The beauty of all the small journeys that began today, the journeys in sports, elections, drama, and even friendships, is that we get to lean into God’s grace each day until we have seen the race completed, so that our faith may be secured for the long, wearying roads of life ahead. But today is only the beginning, and we anxiously await the revealing of God in each unfolding story.
With so much we could take into our worrying hands, we choose instead to sing, “You can have it all, Lord.” Every part of our whole world belongs to him because he first breathed it. Oh what a Savior, isn’t he wonderful? Hallelujiah!