To the students of YSCA 17,
After a very long day, I’ve finally sat down and had the opportunity to reflect on what has been an amazing week. The kitchen has been cleaned, the beds have been changed and Moorbs is responsible for cooking tea…when he finally gets out of the bath. As I sit with a cuppa and my laptop (with a serious case of sleep deprivation) I feel genuinely privileged to have been part of such a special week. This will probably be one of the least polished things I have written, but it comes from the heart.
So many of you have been kind enough to share how you have really connected with the Bible Study material this year. Thank you for coming and taking the time to tell me personally as it’s great to hear that all the hard work has paid off. Your encouragement means a lot and will spur me to carry on developing soulwithaview and writing more material. The hours of study, typing and prayer feel worthwhile knowing that you have been blessed by what has been prepared.
However, as much as I am grateful for your kind words, I’m not convinced that I can take much (if any) of the credit for the growth so many of you have experienced this week.
You all came this week with your own stories to tell, some good, some bad, some difficult, some painful. Some of you came wanting to learn, others had just turned up to spend time with your mates. At the start of the week, some of you even made it clear that you didn’t want to be there at all. In our very first session, we looked at the parable of the four soils. I honestly believe that was the point where God spoke to many of you. The content for the week had been carefully prayed over, the staff had prayed for you using Alex's staff prayer diary (which was brilliant by the way) and the seed was ready to be scattered. All of you took the time last Sunday to really stop and consider where your heart was at and whether you were truly willing to listen and understand. All of you invited God to “open the eyes of your heart” and you listened, studied, took notes and fully engaged with everything that was shared. I am so grateful that you all did that! It meant that the seed that had been prepared, had a chance to grow and I hope it continues to flourish over the coming months.
So, to sum up the themes for this week I would say…
Lub Dub - The condition of the heart
Remember that what you have learned this week will not sustain you until YSCA 18. The soil of your heart needs to be regularly nourished and fertilised. Recognise the thorns as they grow and get weeding immediately. Cultivate deep roots that go past anything that is superficial or shallow.
Blot - The Power of grace & Forgiveness
Cut each other some slack! Look for the best in each other and lovingly call out gossip when you hear it. We’re all learning, stumbling and trying to be the kind of people God wants us to be, so support each other with grace rather than judgement. See the best in each other, rather than the worst, as we all have blots.
Kerching - The Cost of Discipleship
Dig deep to discover more about God for yourself! Explore what you believe and avoid just accepting the wisdom of others…this includes everything you have heard this week! Get out your Bibles and journals, revisit the themes, ask questions and discover for yourself what it means to be a disciple so that you can truly live like one.
Tic Toc - The Way We Invest Our Time & Talents
Quit the trash-talk, whether you believe it’s the truth or not does not justify constantly putting yourself down and being less than God created you to be. We have all been given talents and abilities and every day there are opportunities where we can use them. Invest your time in nurturing the talents you have been given, rather than burying them in the ground.
Tweet - The Importance of Prayer
Keep believing that God is working in whatever situation you are facing. When a worry lands in your mind, immediately convert it to prayer. Instead of talking about the situation endlessly with your friends, get them to pray with/for you, because that’s what will make the difference.
Glug - The Capacity for Change
Don’t expect the new things you have discovered to fit into your old life, they just won’t and it's unrealistic to expect them to! You know it and I know it! Instead, get excited about the new adventure God is taking you on. Also, go easy on those in your church who struggle with change, we all find it hard to give up our old wineskins.
I know I can say on behalf of the whole staff team that we are so unbelievably proud of you and your willingness to be who God wants you to be. You have blessed us so much this week with your searching hearts and your willingness to learn. We are always here for you.
And finally, and most importantly, let God keep hold of the pen of your life. The story He will write will be far beyond anything you could imagine.
“My life is not a story about me. And your life is not a story about you. My life is a story about who God is and what He does in the human heart.”
p.s. To the staff team,
You are extremely precious to me. That is all! xxx