Sidetracked

8 years ago, a camp stole my heart and the difficulty of ever getting rid of me began to increase. To prepare for camp each year, I try to send out a little countdown with a Bible verse and some thoughts to get us in the mindset for camp service. As I’ve mentioned before, I long to generalize the way God uses me and the passion I have for life and for God at camp to other areas of my life. Today’s Parakaleo is adapted from one of this year’s camp preparation emails.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

– Titus 3:4-8
 
I love that Biblical letters, regardless of their purpose (challenging, encouraging, rebuking, etc.) get “sidetracked” by preaching the gospel to the readers because they just can’t help themselves. The “title” for this section of text in the ESV is “Be Ready for Every Good Work.” It starts off simply enough with suggestions to avoid quarreling, respect authority, etc., and then the author veers away from the legalistic, reminding us of our own foolish, disobedient past, and God’s great work in us. In fact, it calls us to insist on (in the NIV, to stress) the truths of the gospel and their application to our daily lives. 
 
I need to remember to not be afraid to get “sidetracked” in activities and conversations, bringing them back to their original purpose of preaching the gospel to everyone I meet. This may have something to do with my occasionally perfectionistic nature, but when my to-do list gets really long, or the stressors in my life begin to pile up, my attitude shifts to a rather stubborn declaration to the world that, “Yes, I will get this done!! WATCH ME!” This is motivating, but it’s motivating towards the wrong goal. I’ve set my own plan, completely disregarding God’s will and the little side plans that He might have for whatever I think the ultimate goal is, and I’ve put the focus more on myself than on His glory. It’s in these times that I am reminded of what a mess I am without my Savior. He wouldn’t need to make me new and more like Him if I was already perfectly set to take on the world or whatever little corner of it caught my eye.
 
May we get sidetracked from our broken, small-minded goals. May we focus our attention on the goal that brings the truest, fullest good beyond what we could think of knowing. May we insist on using our position of “heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” as given to us by God’s grace, by devoting ourselves to excellent and profitable good works this week and all weeks! Amen!

Back to Parakaleo!

Welcome back, everyone! I know “regular” for some people has remained fairly unchanged since I wrote last, while others are hurrying back to school or just starting school. I miss the hullabaloo that is likely happening at my undergraduate institution right now, but I’m also excited to see what God has in store for me this year as I start my second year of grad school and for Parakaleo as I start its FIFTH year.

After I graduated from undergrad, I switched to an ALL-NEW format where I only posted every other week, rather than weekly, as I have done in the past. That format, along with my goals for Parakaleo will continue for now with a slight change. I love some of my long posts and the heart and thought that I have put into them, but this semester, I’m planning to include more short posts. While they won’t be “Snippets” short, some may be a little less verbose in the interest of saving some time both for myself (in writing them) and for my readers (in taking them in!). Inevitably I’ll start prattling on about something, and I will certainly continue to link to lengthy past posts.

For now, I’ll leave you with a verse that I have found motivating in my work throughout the summer and as I transition back into schoolwork:

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

– Hebrews 6:10-12

Happy September, everyone!