Many of our students and those of us in the youth ministry field spent time this summer on a service trip. These weeks are almost always amazing. After experiencing a week of living, serving, eating and worshiping together in Christian community, in true unity with God and others, we often discover that we want to live that way every day. When we get home, panic sets in, and we begin asking ourselves, “What now?” If you are asking that question, here are three things you can do…
Remember What God Has Done
When Moses would have encounters with God, he would come down from the mountain and his face would literally shine with the Glory of God. (Exodus 34:29-35). When we return from trips, camps, retreats, etc., our faces shine too, but eventually the shine fades. Here’s the challenge; don’t forget about what God has done. Don’t settle back into your old life before the shine. In the Old Testament there are many examples of people building an altar, not for worship, but to preserve a memory. These altars were usually just a pile of uncarved rocks, but they served as a reminder that God had been present in their lives, working for their good. (Exodus 17:15, Joshua 4, 1 Samuel 7:12). While random piles of rocks aren’t so practical today, you too can set out a reminder of what God has done in your life. Hang a picture on your wall, post a key scripture verse on your mirror or in your locker or keep a journal of gratitude or daily god-sightings.
Continue Building Relationships
Often what makes our service weeks so amazing is that all our focus is on maintaining a right relationship with God and a right relationships with others. After you return home from your mountain-top experience with God, continue to turn off your cell phone, fast from Social Media, read scripture and pray. Continue to talk to your friends and neighbors not just about sports, music and movies, but about the ways God is showing up in your life, teaching, shaping and encouraging you. Continue to step out of your comfort zone and say hello to a stranger! Continue the hard work of taking risks when you are home again.
Find Satisfaction in the Ordinary
We often look for God in the big moments of our lives, but God is involved in every moment of our lives, especially our ordinary moments. Scripture is filled with stories of people who daily focused on a personal commitment to God. Noah built an ark 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. (That’s one and a half football fields long and four stories high). That’s not a weekend project. That took faithfulness and obedience. Jeremiah, the prophet, ministered under five kings faithfully speaking warnings to the people of Judah for 40 years. Daniel and Esther, quietly and humbly served in king’s courts for years before their faithful commitment to God thrusted them into the spotlight.
Your students and you will quickly learn that living for God at home is messy. It’s hard and transformation doesn’t happen overnight. But remember, God is faithful: what he has done in the past, he can do in the present. God can make even your ordinary weeks amazing!