Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Communion with My King

As a young Catholic, communion was something that we got to do as a "rite of passage." It wasn't something I fully understood, and for that reason, even as an adult, I have struggled to fully grasp and identify with my Savior as I consume the elements of communion. This past weekend, I was at a retreat with my church and had one of "those moments"... the ones that leave you just needing to sit and process for hours afterward. As I was praying before taking communion, I saw a vivid picture that I'm pretty sure radically changed my life and how I see communion forever.
I was to the heavy cross and pick it up. I am mocked and spit on. I carry the cross on my back in the hot sun. I feel faint and I'm certain I will die if I don't get water. I'm very thirsty and i am starting to feel anxious. I know what is coming. I have sinned and I am going to be killed. They will lay me on the cross and deive sharp, huge nails in my hands and feet. They they will raise up the cross and leave me there until my heart stops beating, until I am dead.

As I approach the hill's incline, I stumble. I fall in the dirt and think that they will help me. But, the crowd starts yelling at me to get up and they call me horrible names. I somehow manage to get to my feet; my legs are wobbly and shaking. I don't have much further to go and my heart starts beating faster. "Isn't there another way? Can I just appologize? Why must I die? Was my sin that great? If God loved me, why would He allow them to kill me?"

I finally get to the top of the hill- almost crawling. When I reach the right spot, some one yells at me to stop, but I don't hear; my ears are ringing and I am barely conscious- I'm just moving mechanically. They take a large whip and strike my legs until I fall and drop the cross. Not is the point of no return. I am going to die soon.

They lay me down on the cross and being driving the nails into my hands and feet. The pain is so great that I lose consciousness. When I wake up, i am in the air, being help up by the cross and the nails. My flesh is being pulled and ripped and I am in so much pain. Suddenly, I see a figure in front of me. I try to focus on him, but I don't have enough strength. I see him push past the guards. "She is MINE," He says. The He lowers the cross on the ground. He slowly pulls each nail from my hands and feet. As he does this, he touches my wounds. I am healed instantly. I am not thirsty anymore. I have strength and do not feel weak anymore.

He take my hand and pulls me up. He embraces me and whispers in my ear, "I do this for you because of my Love." He releases me and lays down in my place- looking into my eyes the whole time. Then he says, "My death will pay for your sin," as they begin driving nails into His hands and feet. He is still looking at me as they raise up the cross. I stand in wonder and astonishment as I watch my Savior come and die for me. He died, that I may have an abundant life. He paid the debt I owed.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Where has the time gone?

Where has the time gone? How have I somehow made it through a year of leading a small group, when each step of the way was a struggle? And now, I feel like I am being pulled in a different direction. How can I let this go, this thing that has slowly become a part of who I am. I don’t introduce myself as “Lindsay Yates: Small Group Leader,” but I feel like being a leader in the church has affected every other part of my life.

It changed what I look for in a guy. I now know that if I am dating someone that has an aversion towards leaders, or any negative sensitivity towards being led by someone, I cannot be in a relationship with him. I respect leaders, and have a heart for them. They are thrown in the gauntlet, and are expected to come out on the other side not only intact, but still maintaining their integrity. How could I partner with someone who does not respect this amazing way to serve?

It changed the friendships that I had. I found out very quickly which friends I had that were loyal and that loved me with Christ’s love. I made mistakes, like every new and seasoned leader would. But what I saw is that sometimes people treat your mistakes differently if you are in a leadership role. I think that some of this has to do with how public our mistakes can be, but also because when you are a leader, your choices affect the people you lead- and can hurt them, even if you don't mean to.

It changed how I view leaders. I used to look at leaders as flawless. I mean, how did they get the position they were in if they still made mistakes? I felt that this disqualified me as a leader, and was blown away when I was asked to step up into a leadership role. Being on this side of leadership, I found out quickly that we are all in process, and that God chooses people for their heart for him- not for their holiness. Before actually leading a small group, I never saw David and Moses as leaders. I only saw them as examples of flawed people that God chose to use in spite of their sin. Now I see them as men who struggled, but that God saw leadership on them- no matter what they saw.

It changed how I deal with money. I found very quickly that I was held to a higher standard in all aspects of my life. How can I point people to Christ if I myself didn’t have a healthy relationship with money? To have an idol in my life was to say “this is more powerful, more important than God.” I feared money. Sometimes, I still do. I let money control my emotions, I believe that money takes care of me, and I give it more power than it truly has. Being in leadership has showed me over time that by having money as an idol, I am limiting the ways that God is able to use me, as well as living in a state of fear and anxiety.

It changed my relationship with God. I have never been more desperate for God than leading a group of my peers towards a closer relationship with Jesus. There were alot of good times, but among the negative- I have felt isolated and alone, judged, ridiculed, and gossiped about. I have felt completely out of my element and scared to death that I would fall flat on my face. I have known for the past year that there is nothing within me that could successfully lead or co-lead a group apart from any tools God would give me. Now I see that because of what God has gifted me with, and how He sustains me, I am able to do more than I ever thought or imagined.

And here I am now, a year later, wondering if I had the chance and knew exactly how hard it was going to be… would I do it all again? If someone told me last April that I would lose friends, and go through a battle of “I know I need to do this- that God is asking me to- but I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t feel like I am strong enough and I am weary,” I am not sure that I would have made the same choice. I would like to think that I am tough and strong. But if someone recited all that would happen in the past year, it would probably scare me off. I would probably make some excuses as to why I can't lead and put myself out there.

I'm glad I didn't know. I'm glad I put myself out there. I'm glad that a year later, I have had all the experiences that I have.