Monday, May 24, 2010

The Kingdom

"for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
-Galatians 3:26-28

God gives each of us a part in the larger story that he has already woven. In that story we all have the chance to use our experiences to impact others for His kingdom. I am a product of the Birmingham school system and because of my exposure to other cultures I have a heart for racial reconciliation. Two weeks ago (Friday May 14 to Saturday the 15th) I got the chance to be a part of a camping trip put together by a gentleman from Briarwood, Harry Pearson. His vision was to have several of Briarwood's tenth grade boys go on a camping trip with several of our boys from Restoration. The liason between our school and Briarwood was Brian Goessling, who just came to Restoration from Briarwood this year. Normally, I would be super-pumped about an idea like this, but this has been a particularly hard and draining year, so I only reluctantly agreed to join in. I became even more reluctant when I was told that I would be the one delivering a fireside devotional that night. As we often do when we get tired, my mind justified my internal whining and complaining and the hope that I could just get the whole weekend over quickly. However, the Lord used this weekend to open my eyes to the power of His blessing and allowed me to witness a beautiful picture of the reality of His kingdom. None of the five students we took had ever been camping and so they were greatly excited when we got to the camp site and they saw four wheelers and canoes and kayaks. As the Briarwood boys started showing up in cowboy boots with their own fishing poles it became obvious that they were seasoned outdoorsmen, even at such a young age. Without any prompting from the adults present, the Briarwood students began to show our guys the ropes without even a hint of superiority. After paddling around the lake and fishing for a while they all set out on four wheelers and a Polaris ATV. We could hear them across the lake down in a bottom running around with engines wide open. After being gone for a little over an hour they returned just after dark and had managed to get more muddy than I thought humanly possible. The first picture was taken upon their return to camp and, for your information, the brown ATV we are gathered around started the afternoon bright yellow! We sat around the fire and I delivered a message based on the above passage from Galatians, which is one of my favorite passages to use with my students at school. After the devotional and smores, the boys headed out again to the same mud hole. After a little while, our curiosity got the best of us and we jumped in a four wheel drive and headed over to the spot and found the boys playing "capture the flag" in mud about a foot and a half deep by the lights of four wheelers. We captured the moment in the second picture. As I fell asleep in a lounge chaire by the fire when the evening was done I stared at the stars and marvelled at God's goodness. He used everything in my life to that point (every decision, triumph, and mistake) to bring me to that very moment on that very night and witness the coming together of His kingdom. As I reminded the boys around the fire during my message, forty years ago a group of black boys and white boys (not to mention the English dude that was one of the chaperons!) could not and would not have been sitting around the same camp fire in Shelby County, Alabama. God's kingdom is coming, and my prayer is that we in the American Church will be a part of that and will take part in the grand adventure that the Lord is building every day!

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