Immersed in a Torrent of Grace
While I’ve been on immersion programs in the past, none of them have been as intensive and as long-term as the one I just came from. I came as a teacher in charge of students, but in the end I ended up learning as well. I felt like a high school student again.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned:
1. You cannot outgive God.
Whenever we go on immersion or outreach trips, we tend to think of ourselves as the people who are doing the giving. This is partially true, but in the greater scheme of things, we will find that in the end, we receive far more than what we have given. We thought that we were helping and teaching, but it was we who were helped and taught. I thought I was a teacher and supervisor, but every experience there seemed to have been clearly orchestrated by the Lord to teach me something. It’s just the way God’s economy works, it seems—it’s not about “fair trade” or “give and take,” it’s about an onrushing torrent of grace that floods over us.
2. The wonder of the Body of Christ.
This dawned on me during the worship at the end of the recital. I’ve always believed that the Church was never meant to be uniform (the Bible is pretty clear on that), but the Christ-centered DNA that each group has is the same and bonds us together more than any uniform practices or rituals could. Most of the immersion team was from a megachurch background, and there we were, helping a small, provincial community church—yet we did not feel any difference in terms of identity. We were all believers in Christ, that’s what mattered. Denominational lines, ethnic boundaries, and social strata did not matter. We were brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ mattered. That was enough for us.
3. How thankfulness makes everything so much easier.
It’s been a while since I had to take a bath with a bucket and flush the toilet with the same. Normally I would whine about not having the food I like (though the food we had was so delicious I forgot that I had other preferences and just dug in. The food cooked by the ladies of the church was absolutely wonderful). But everything was made more amazing by a simple attitude of thankfulness. On Saturday, when half the group was away on the boat ride to the outreach and we were left to clean the church, the water dispenser actually had cold water in it, and it was made even better by being thankful. The food was already good, but the attitude of gratitude made it even better. The bathroom was an admittedly low point, but we had water, an enclosed private bathroom, and none of my things fell onto the floor or into the toilet. Everything becomes awesome.
4. How dependence on God is so important.
I was struggling with certain fears and doubts. They were racing through my head over and over again, and I kept going back to 1 John 5:1-5, which I think summed up the immersion experience nicely for me: Obedience to Christ, identity in Christ, and overcoming through Christ are all one and the same thing. You can’t have one without the others. Holding onto the Lord and His promises was so helpful when I was being assailed by these doubts. I knew that through everything I went through, God was with me.
All in all, it was an amazing experience, and I’m so thankful for the many things I’ve learned.
It felt like the New Testament times. It felt like we were living in the book of Acts. I guess to a certain extent, we are–I’ve heard it said that the book of Acts is the one book of the Bible that is still being written today.
We’re part of that story–a story that is not about us, but about God–yet He still gives us opportunities to dive into His torrent of grace.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2:10