If you were born any time after the mid-90’s, I am sure you are able to identify this sea-sponge cartoon character, SpongeBob Squarepants. It was back in the good old days when Nickelodeon was in its prime. I remember watching the show, laughing at the crazy antics that he somehow always got himself into. One of my favorite episodes is when he and Patrick go out to sell chocolate bars, it’s a classic.
I know it’s been a hot second since the last time I wrote a blog post, a lot has happened both in the church plant and my life. Jesus always seems to surprise me in big ways, but more on that later.
Something I love about Spongebob is the enthusiasm he has for life. Regardless of the challenge or circumstances that stood in front of him, he had this certainty that whatever life tossed his way he was ready. Whether it was his daily morning routine before heading into work at the Krusty Krab, thwarting Plankton’s plan to steal the secret recipe, taking his driving test with Mrs. Puff, or hanging out with Patrick and Squidward, his confidence and positive manner fueled him on to shout his most famous line, “I’M READY”
I feel like we spend all of our lives getting ready.
- Getting up in the morning (some of us just roll out of bed…)
- Perfecting your social media aesthetic (still don’t know what that means)
- For our future jobs… Go education, yah college.
- Marriage, Children, Retirement and whatever comes after that…
I don’t know what phase you are in or what you are preparing for next, but we have this unspoken order of how we are supposed to live our lives.
The funny thing is that often we are so “ready” for everything, except what Jesus wants for us. We are always ready for the easy option, the escape. We are ready to let someone else do it, because we aren’t “good enough”. We are ready to compare ourselves to the expectations others or we put on ourselves. We are ready to do what we want.
So we spend our whole lives preparing, but to what end?
Take a second and close your eyes. Think, what are you pouring your life into and why.
I have no idea what your reality is, but I’m going to give you a real snapshot of what I’ve been living/learning. Living abroad is tough, working full-time ministry is tougher.
We are many times not ready like we think we are, but we like to make it seem like we are.
Over the past two years I have spent in South America, I have never realized a truer statement, I’m wasn’t ready, I liked to think I had it all together. I wasn’t ready to experience failure, loneliness, depression, challenges, and doubt. I was someone who in my mind was prepared, but I was missing one big part, Jesus.
How could someone who’s job is to start a church miss something so big?
Answer: Pride and hard headedness (the opposite of Spongebob). When we live in comfort, it’s easy to be ready. We are able to rely on our own strengths and abilities to get by. We can make it seem like everything is going well. When it gets too difficult, pass it off to someone else, or look for an escape route.
In South America, for the first time, I had to confront my own weaknesses and fears. Previously I was able to runaway or quit if I wasn’t the best at something. I had become so accustomed to doing things to win the approval of others and give myself worth. I can’t tell you how many times I had to fall until I realized that I couldn’t rely on my own capabilities and strengths.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Truly living this verse changed my life perspective. I had heard, read, even taught about this verse, but really apply it to my life…nah. It says “Whatever you do”. Not going to lie, Paul didn’t leave any wiggle room for us.
So that led me to change my thinking style. The most difficult part was living it out. It meant, changing where I found my identity, and the motivations behind my actions.
SPOILER ALERT: I hate being bad at things. Basically everything I do in South America were new things I had never dreamed of doing in my life. So it was pretty humbling.
Things I never thought I would do, I do in Chile, and it make it even more crazy, in Spanish. Leading worship, playing the piano, directing church services, speaking in front of lots of people. I can’t tell you the amount of times five minutes before an event or service a movie would play in my mind of the worst, imaginable things that could happen. I had to close my eyes and remember I wasn’t going to be up there alone, Jesus was with me. Let me tell you, when I started to give it all to Jesus, I was able to find such a peace.
Yes I’m ready.
When someone is preparing for a tryout, interview, or competition (Go Cavs); they do whatever they can to be the best. Usually that comes with the help of a coach or some kind of mentor. Lucky us we have the best one out there. He’s in control of it all, we just have to trust and listen.
Everything we go through has some kind of purpose in our life. It’s our choice if we let it be a point of growth or not.
All I know is I want to be like SpongeBob. I want to have that same conviction and self-confidence that, “I’MMMMMMM READY”. That whatever challenge, adventure, or opportunity that comes my way, I can do it. Why? Because I am not alone.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God.
As stated earlier it’s been a while since I have given an update of the work being done in Antofagasta. We have faced so many trials and speed bumps, but through the ashes, it has been the most humbling thing to see lives being changed. In the past seven months we have been constructing a church. Not only the physical building (I now know how to mix cement and lay block), but also community. One of my favorite things is to look out every Sunday morning at all the people praising Jesus. It’s humbling knowing that Jesus had a plan for this city, for the 60 people from seven different countries. A year ago, we had nothing. Now we have small groups, leaders that are being discipled, soccer ministry, and most importantly people who have found hope in Jesus. God is faithful, and I can’t wait to see what else he’s got planned.