This past weekend I had the marvelous opportunity to go back to Grace Adventures for a visit. I didn’t intend to work (mostly because there was not a group in that weekend), but come to find out, Ride-a-Thon was on Saturday, and I couldn’t pass that up.
A little backstory to set this up: I haven’t been to Grace in five months, not since the FUEL Conference in November. As I told someone at church Friday night, far too long to be away from home. I’ve been aching to go back for months, and it was finally going to happen next weekend, but God surprised me with a visit a week early as well. I could not have been happier. When we hit Oceana county driving in, my face was permanently stretched in an absurd smile backed by so much joy.
So anyway, I spent the weekend catching up with so many people and playing with kids and crashing in the Vander Kodde’s basement. I can’t describe the joy of some of those moments, like when AJ, my three-year-old best buddy told me he’d missed me. On Saturday, I showed up at the ranch to see if there was anything I could do to help out and found that all but one of the Ascent interns from last year were all going to be there at some point. I got to spend a large portion of the day with one of them, which was such a blessing.
The biggest part of the weekend had to be church, though. Since circumstances have conspired against me to keep me out of church during this internship, it meant so much more than it would have to be able to go to the Good Friday and Sunday morning Easter service at a church with people I know and love and who care about me and have invested time and energy into my life. To worship and listen to Pastor Mark teach and fellowship…. It was an amazing experience that was exactly what I needed.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Mark spoke on 1 Peter 1:3-4 – not your typical Easter Sunday message, but it was quite possibly the best I’ve ever heard. He talked about how Christ’s resurrection has bought us a new birth, a living hope, and an incorruptible inheritance. He talked about how Christ has beaten death and shared stories of martyrs who gladly went to death rather than feared it. What did they know? What knowledge did they have that made them kiss the burning stake and pray for gladiators before they died? A living hope. Accurate perspective. Striving after the only thing that does not fade and is not empty. They knew they were only strangers and foreigners in this land; they knew who their king was; they knew what lay on the other side of death. And they lived. Too often, the fear of death keeps us from living. We play it safe and walk the shoreline, afraid that the waves might get too high if we venture in or that sharks may prowl below the surface. The reality is that sometimes they do. But the swim is worth the risk because what can they do but kill us and send us to our savior?
I often struggle with fear of all different kinds. But I’ve found that life is always more fun, worth more, more impactful, more joyful, and all around better when I conquer those fears and just live like only Christ matters and nothing anyone does can touch me, when I live like there is a living hope inside me. Because there is.