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Guatemala Week: Day 4

Guatemala Week: Day 4

It’s GUATEMALA WEEK on our Watershed social media channels (Facebook & Instagram) and blog! This week we’re featuring content written by participants from Watershed’s trip to Guatemala last month to visit our global partners, EducateBV. Follow along as we post several pictures and thoughts throughout each day. Full-length blogs by contributors will be linked in each day’s final post.

By Jen Ford

In today’s world, it is so easy to get lost in mundane, the routine. To forget what it’s like to be excited or have passion about what is going on around you or even the future. To actually have hope. In visiting Guatemala for the second time, I was reminded how hope and passion can come alive in you again from two simple, yet impactful situations: a field trip and seeing the home of a student. And not just any student, but someone who I have gotten to know over the last year and half by sponsoring her through the Gateway program at Educate BV.

For the students in Buena Vista, field trips are a rare occurrence. Many of them don’t have the resources to buy their uniforms or school snacks, so how could they provide for a field trip? Our team was able to pay for the school bus and the admission to Mayan ruins for the 7-9th graders in the program. For many of these students, it was their first time leaving Buena Vista, let alone seeing anything about their native heritage.

I sat next to a young girl on the school bus on the way up. I didn’t speak Spanish and she didn’t speak English, so you can guess what happened on that trip. Silence, but at the end there was a peace offering when she gave me a small piece of candy. No words; it was just a simple thank you for helping them get out of the classroom. We all know what that felt like!

As I watched the students appear to be listening to the guide and then, during free time, chat and laugh with one another and wander from the artifacts, it reminded me no matter where we find our freedom and adventure, that is what life should be about. And to look around and see there is more to the world than the situation we are in and realize we can achieve so much more when we have support around us. On that trip I hope the students realized that they do have support: from the Schmidts, from their families, and even from complete strangers who don’t speak their language but sit next to them on an hour-long bus ride just to bring them somewhere they have never been.

Jen and Cindy are on the left side of the picture - Cindy is wearing an orange vest.

Jen and Cindy are on the left side of the picture - Cindy is wearing an orange vest.

When I signed up for the trip, to say there wasn’t a slight selfish motive would be a lie. Since the start of the last year’s school year, I have been supporting and sponsoring Cindy Paola through the Gateway program. She is currently an 11th grader and will graduate this year. I was able to talk to her (through a translator ;)) and get to know her at the Bible study and dinner on Wednesday night. She is a typical teenager trying to navigate what she wants and desires versus what society is telling her to do. She is trying to finish her degree when everything in that culture tells her she should be home starting a family already.

While we were on the field trip with the younger students, she and the rest of the 11th grade class went to visit the university to understand their programs and their options. Once we got back, we stopped at her house to see where she lived and to ask her how the trip went. Cindy Paola was so excited about what she saw - you could see it on her face as we talked with her. Her dreams and goals were coming alive as she realized they were actually obtainable! Even though this trip was my first time truly meeting her, I felt proud. Not from a financial perspective, but from a faith one. Cindy Paola has been in my prayers and on my heart since I became her sponsor. I know personally what it’s like to go against the grain and I’ve prayed she would too. I’ve prayed that she could find the hope and passion to achieve something greater and build a future for herself and her family.

I know most sponsors of the students in the Gateway program never have the opportunity to meet their students face-to-face. I was fortunate enough to look Cindy Paola in her eyes and say, “You are loved, supported and, most importantly, not alone. There are people all over the world praying for you and your classmates, knowing that your circumstances may seem to be blocking you, but God has a plan and you can overcome all of your challenges with His help.”

And while Cindy Paola needed to hear that, the reminder was good one for us as well. 

Guatemala Week: Day 3

Guatemala Week: Day 3

It’s GUATEMALA WEEK on our Watershed social media channels (Facebook & Instagram) and blog! This week we’re featuring content written by participants from Watershed’s trip to Guatemala last month to visit our global partners, EducateBV. Follow along as we post several pictures and thoughts throughout each day. Full-length blogs by contributors will be linked in each day’s final post.

By TJ Sullivan

How can we live with joy in our hearts? How can this continually flow out of us regardless of our circumstances? And how can that joy be a reflection of God’s love for us and for those around us?

Since returning from Guatemala, these questions have been ruminating in my heart. The DeepStream motto of “Love All, Worship One” has challenged me to question how my life can exude joy and be an example to others every day.

One day of our trip in particular stuck with me when it comes to loving all and living with joy. The itinerary seemed simple enough: English class in the morning, a water day with the preschoolers, and gardening in the afternoon. But the love the Schmidt Family has for the people of Buena Vista and the joy the villagers live with was most evident to me on that day.

It jumped off the page as we celebrated students’ achievements playing Bananagrams, Jenga, and Memory to practice words in English. It resonated throughout the village in the shouts of laughter from the preschoolers riding on our backs down the Slip-N-Slide, not to mention how fast their little legs carried them back up the hill for another ride! Otra, orta! Another, another! The contagious nature of that joy was especially evident when two mothers of the students decided to join us in sliding down the wet, soapy plastic.

There was joy in the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the property gardens, stumbling over phrases in Spanish together. God’s fingerprints could be seen through the heartfelt thanks Jose (the property manager) showered us with, not just for the help in planting new crops, but in his gratitude for new friendships with brothers and sisters in Christ. It wasn’t about how many seeds were sewn, it was about the joy of knowing they are loved and cared for by a community some 2,600 miles away.

Since returning home I certainly haven’t been perfect in leaning into the loving, joyous life God calls us to that was so evident to me in Buena Vista. I’ve gotten frustrated at work, annoyed in the parking lot that is now I-77, and discouraged when things don’t follow the plan I’ve laid out in my head. But the bracelet on my wrist from Guatemala has helped bring me back to memories of the trip.

Despite the challenges of living in one of the most impoverished parts of one of the world’s poorest countries, there is a joy oozing out of the people there. I believe that joy comes from the love God has for them, and that love is displayed by the work DeepStream is doing daily in their community.

On that Wednesday in Guatemala, God’s love was manifested to the people of Buena Vista in Jenga, Slip-N-Slides, and planting crops. But that was just Wednesday, and every day DeepStream purposefully finds ways to love all in the community. To me the memories of the smiles, laughter, and warm hugs are a constant reminder that, in spite of our circumstances, God loves us deeply and calls us to share that love and joy with everyone around us. 

Guatemala Week: Day 2

Guatemala Week: Day 2

It’s GUATEMALA WEEK on our Watershed social media channels (Facebook & Instagram) and blog! This week we’re featuring content written by participants from Watershed’s trip to Guatemala last month to visit our global partners, EducateBV. Follow along as we post several pictures and thoughts throughout each day. Full-length blogs by contributors will be linked in each day’s final post.

By David Avalos

We arrived in the beautiful village of Buena Vista Saturday evening. Nothing was planned for the first evening except for an orientation by the Schmidts, yet the group was full of excitement and anticipation for the week to come. The Schmidts suggested that we keep our minds open and not have any expectations. The next day would be a full day of work. We were told that we would help clear some land and build a church for a new congregation that was starting in the village. What we didn’t know was that the Pastor of the church, Marcos, would share a revelation that would have us all in awe.

We arrived at a simple home with a large field used for farming. As we unloaded materials, we were informed that the family who owned the farm decided to give this section of their land to the new church as a gift. After introductions were made with Pastor Marcos and some members of his congregation, Pastor Marcos told us the church’s story…

He and his small congregation had been had been meeting in people's homes and in other spaces for several years, but they had been praying about building a church. They dreamed of having their own church, but they lacked the funds. When the farmland was offered to them, they were overjoyed, however they still lacked the funds for materials. They prayed about it and decided to clear the land anyway. Although they lacked the money, they knew by faith alone that God would provide them the resources they needed.

They began clearing the land and, shortly after, were told that God had heard their prayers! They had been given the funds needed to build their church. Not only were the funds provided, but the sponsoring church was also there to work side-by-side with them to get their church started! Yes, Watershed not only made it possible for them to purchase materials, but they sent the manpower to help them build.

As if that was not enough, these men of pure faith drew some simple sketches of what they wanted their church to look like. However, they were not architects and did not fully understand all that was involved with construction. However, a member of our team, Josh, is familiar with construction because his father was a contractor. Josh was able to provide some very helpful suggestions to assure the church would be built safely. Pastor Marcos and his congregation prayed and gave thanks because, not only were their prayers answered, God also sent them a church whose members worked alongside them and an engineer to assure their church was sound!

Asamblea de Dios Refugio de Salvación is an Assemblies of God church with the name "Shelter of Salvation." Their members are eternally grateful to Watershed for providing them the resources, financially and physically, to help their dreams come true.

Guatemala Week: Day 1

Guatemala Week: Day 1

It’s GUATEMALA WEEK on our Watershed social media channels (Facebook & Instagram) and blog! For the next five days we’ll feature content written by participants from Watershed’s trip to Guatemala last month to visit our global partners, EducateBV. Follow along as we post several pictures and thoughts throughout each day. Full-length blogs by contributors will be linked in each day’s final post.

By Jill Kays

I am fairly new to Watershed, attending about 5-6 months. The church was an instant fit for me and has continued to be so. I have past experience with overseas mission work and a passion for service and people, so when I heard about the opportunity to travel with Watershed to do this kind of work, I was immediately interested. I didn’t know anyone, but went in with an open mind and heart, ready to love on others and receive whatever truths I would learn. I knew it would be great, but I honestly think I underestimated how amazing it would be. I came away from the experience overwhelmed with a sense of love, gratitude, and humility. I was inspired by the Schmidt family (the family we partner with), the work that is being done in that community, and, most of all, by the people of Buena Vista.

This town is small and very, very poor. Most people live in overcrowded shacks with dirt floors. There is a lack of clean water and good nutrition. The children are all very small, due to the malnutrition. Sixteen year olds look like 12 year olds. Six year olds look like toddlers. There is a cycle of poverty that keeps people stuck in these situations, including poor education, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence and gross lack of resources. Going into this type of setting, it is easy to feel “sorry” for them and assume the worst… that everyone is miserable and hopeless. However, while there is certainly some of that, what I was most struck by was not the misery or hopelessness, but the opposite. I was impressed by the hope, joy, resilience, and drive of the people, particularly the children. The Schmidt family’s impact is noticeable: they are providing an education to these children, pouring love on them, giving them good nutrition and positive experiences, and showing them their future doesn’t have to be dictated by their past… and it’s working.

When I talked to these children, I was humbled by how much they have already experienced in their short lives. For example, I rode on the bus with a 16-year-old girl named Jessica. I asked her what she liked to do outside of school, expecting her to give a normal teen answer like listen to music, talk about boys, or something along those lines. She shared nonchalantly that after school each day she travels to the fields to work on the farms so she can earn 5 quetzal (about $0.66) a day. Three of those quetzal is spent riding the bus to and from school so that she can get an education; the rest goes to her family.  I was instantly hit with a sense of sorrow… saddened that this beautiful young girl isn’t able to really get a carefree childhood. However, she did not share my sorrow and showed no desire for pity… only a sense of strength and resilience. For her, this is life, and the only life she knows.

Jessica is very smart, one of the top students in her class. She loves school and plans to go to college to become an architect. She is hopeful about her future, has a contagious smile, and you would never know for one second the struggles she endures if you didn’t dig deeper. Jessica’s story is similar to many of the stories I heard from the students. They acknowledge the challenges and difficulties they face currently, but they have joy and are focused on their hopes, dreams, and a desire to make a different future for themselves and their community. The Schmidt’s school has provided them with a refuge where these kinds of dreams are possible.

In addition to the school, the Schmidts shower love on this community by meeting some of their needs when possible – they rebuild kitchens to allow for safer living environments, provide food baskets, and offer free medical care to some members of the village. This kind of unconditional love empowers the community, sending a message that we see you, we care about you, and you matter. It’s beautiful.  One of the things I most enjoyed was that, even though we don’t speak the same language, live in the same culture, or have the same life experiences, this universal language of love was easily understood… and it was powerful. To me, this is God: this force of good and love that moves people toward hope and unity. God’s presence was evident there in Buena Vista and in the work being done.

Each one of us on the trip was moved by the experiences of the week. Several talked about not wanting to leave and hoping to come back in the future. We ended the last night with a long discussion around a firepit, processing our time together. Mark asked each of us, “If you could stay here another month, what would you want to accomplish?”

Each of us shared a vision we had, reflecting our individual passions and talents. David shared about his hopes for the medical facility, I shared about my desire to build relationships with the people and improve access to mental health care, and so on. Mark’s response… ”Do that where you are called.”

He reminded us that while we may not be called to Guatemala, each of us has a calling, a passion, and we can live out that calling to serve others whenever and wherever we are. It was a powerful message and a great reminder that all around us are hurting people, hurting communities, and we can make a difference right where we are.

We are so fortunate in this country. The contrast becomes overwhelming when you go to a third world country like Guatemala. The suffering and injustice is right in front of your face, so it’s hard to ignore. However, in America this is often not the case. It is easy to get caught up in our daily lives, Instagram posts, and soccer practices and lose sight of the hurting world around us.  I will be the first to acknowledge I am guilty of this. However, this trip was a good wake-up call for me and my hope is that we can start to gradually wake up and, as a community, can continue to be as outwardly focused as we are sometimes inwardly. It’s a slow and difficult change, but one that I think is possible.

I am so thrilled to be a part of the Watershed community and look forward to continuing to witness the work being done locally and internationally to enhance justice and make a positive difference. I am inspired to be a part of that work in whatever way I can and I hope you will too.

LOVE ALL, WORSHIP ONE.

Self-Sabotage and Faith

Self-Sabotage and Faith

By Cedric Lundy

Self-sabotage is the way an individual, through their individual beliefs, self-esteem, self-confidence, and permission from their past, keeps themselves within their self-chosen—and surprisingly comfortable—boundaries.

This past Sunday, as a part of our Interwoven series, I shared my own experience of realizing that I have a pattern of sabotaging myself in certain aspects of my life. I gave some examples from my youth of sabotaging even the possibility of dating, and from trying out for the basketball team. More currently I shared how identifying myself as a youth pastor had prevented me from even considering, much less pursuing, how else I could be used in ministry.

For those of you who were in attendance or have listened to the podcast hopefully it resonated with you and you are able to carve out some time this week to contemplate how and in what areas of your life you are your own worst enemy to achieving your goals and dreams. That being said there is one area I’d like to delve into deeper than I did on stage. Specifically two of the four questions I posed in relation to being a self-saboteur. Have your ‘yea buts’ become the primary obstacle to the life of transformation and renewal God is attempting to orchestrate in your life? How many of us are horrified that being made into a new creation in Christ, means a new set of expectations and new and higher levels of required performance?

I grew up in a Free Methodist church. The joke about Methodists is that they’re "all about the methods." More specifically, Free Methodists are all about living a disciplined lifestyle characterized by strict observance of moral codes and practice of Christian disciplines, most particularly Bible reading and prayer. That is one of my major starting points in understanding how to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Not to say that those two practices are somehow invalid, but those two practices have, over the years, become the “yea but” preventing me at times from fully engaging Christ for the purpose of continued life transformation and renewal. Those practices have, at times, caused me to assess my own personal spiritual health based solely on the frequency at which I practice them instead of assessing myself based upon the evidence of the fruit Paul mentions in Galatians 5.22-24 (love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self-control).

All that to say, at times, I struggle to feel like I’ve met my perceived expectations of required performance, especially since becoming a full-time vocational pastor. If I perceive I’m not meeting those standards I become paranoid God is going to distance himself from me, and before I know it I start to move away from him internally before he can.

For some of you, your ‘yea but’ is your doubts. I imagine there is an event or circumstance that has become your current starting point for life with and in Christ, but that event has evoked all sorts of doubts regarding the goodness and trustworthiness of God, or worthiness of yourself. I know fellow journeyers who have been railroaded by divorce (their parents’ and their own), being the victim of abuse, failure of health, losing their virginity, becoming addicted to porn, betrayal—the list goes on and on—into doubting God’s existence or that he could ever truly love them.

Could it be that you’ve become comfortable keeping God at a safe distance ever since?

For some of you, particularly those who are relatively new to church, your ‘yea but’ has been the valid questions raised by the history of grievances of those who claim the God and Christ of the Christian scriptures. How the first century Jewish teacher of love and grace became the mascot of the crusades, annihilation of Native Americans, and the tormentor of sexual minorities is perplexing to the point of there being a myriad of internet memes that can illustrate these incongruences better than I ever could.

Or maybe your questions reside within the realm of trying to reconcile faith and reason. Regardless, your questions have become your ‘yea but’ preventing you from going any deeper into your journey with God. Could it be that you find an odd comfort in knowing that your questions likely don’t have satisfying answers that would serve as a catalyst for you to move further towards God?

Whether our upbringing, our doubts, or our questions I suspect that our ‘yea buts’ in this regard have a common thread. At some level we all need to feel like we have arrived. Arrived at a point of excellence. Arrived at a point of resolve. Arrived at a point of resolution. The prickly underbelly to feeling like we need to have arrived is that we know, or at least should know by now, that life is too unpredictable and filled with too many unknowns for that to be the thing we base our relationship with God and Christ upon in any facet.

We never know when something is going to come and disrupt our comfort in feeling like everything is in its right place. When that reality becomes the reason for keeping God at arm’s length, then it can become the thing that actually sabotages our engagement with him without us realizing we’re doing it.        

Because He is Risen

Because He is Risen

Thanks to all who joined us yesterday at Watershed to celebrate Easter Sunday! You can listen to the complete message here if you missed it. 

Because He is risen
Spring is possible
In all the cold hard places
Gripped by winter
And freedom jumps the queue
To take fear’s place
as our focus
Because he is risen

Because He is risen
My future is an epic novel
Where once it was a mere short story
My contract on life is renewed
in perpetuity
My options are open-ended
My travel plans are cosmic
Because he is risen

Because He is risen
Healing is on order and assured
And every disability will bow
Before the endless dance of his ability
And my grave too will open
When my life is restored
For this frail and fragile body
Will not be the final word
on my condition
Because He is risen

-Gerard Kelly

 

Conscious Coupling

Conscious Coupling

Yesterday Watershed welcomed Charlotte therapist Patricia Butler to share a Valentine's Day message about conscious coupling. Patricia walked through the states of partnership/marriage and explained an intentional dialogue practice couples can use to communicate in a healthy and effective manner.  

STAGES OF PARTNERING OR MARRIAGE

  1. Romantic Stage (18-24 months)
  2. Power Struggle Stage
  3. Mature Love Stage

After about 18-24 months, most couples will begin to find themselves in the Power Struggle Stage of a relationship. The subconscious needs and desires of each person might clash, and, if left unexamined, will continue to cause unresolved tension. In this stage, many couples strive to return to the Romantic Stage, to "get back to how we were." However, returning to that stage is not possible. Thus, couples need to find a way to move forward into the Mature Love Stage. 

Practicing intentional dialogue is one way couples can begin to move forward into greater wholeness and mature love. Intentional dialogue slows down our brains, fosters deep listening, creates a sacred space, and can serve as a contemplative practice. Click here to view a description of each stage of the intentional dialogue practice.

After hearing from Patricia, Matt reminded our community that it can be easy for couples to lose hope during the power struggle stage. However, the moment you connect with the idea that there's something else happening beneath the surface, that there's a whole internal sub-story which is unknowingly informing your life and the life of your partner, you might experience a new sense of liberation and hope.

In Matthew 13 Jesus told a parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."

May it be the same in our relationships. Once we discover hidden treasure we didn't know existed, may we be willing to forgo everything to run after the wholeness and healing that can be ours.

Contact Patricia (pjbutler-msw@earthlink.net) or check out this recommended reading list for more. Also, Patricia and her husband will be leading a Conscious Coupling Workshop next month:

 

CONSCIOUS COUPLING WORKSHOP

March 5, 2016

Myers Park Baptist Church, 9:30-4:00pm

$295.00 (before 2/26/16)

$325.00

 

Listen to the full podcast of Matt and Patricia's interview here

God's Power in the World

God's Power in the World

Dating, relationships and love (or lack thereof) can feel messy and difficult for many people. Yesterday Co-Pastor Matt O'Neil spoke about asking better questions as we wrestle with the "wheat and the weeds" in our lives. (Listen to the full message: Stogies & Silettos 2016 | There Are Always More Questions)

Good questions don't usually have simple answers - they often require a journey, a commitment and a surrender to something bigger than ourselves. Even though Jesus says there will someday be a harvest when the wheat will be kept and the weeds burned away completely, asking better questions often doesn't make circumstances any easier in the present. The good news is that we have a God who took on our human condition to become nothing and embraced our powerlessness to enter our pain. God's full resolve is to join us in our darkness. 

Matt closed this talk with the following mediation from Fr. Ron Rolheiser about the true nature of God's power in the world. May it bring you deep peace and comfort as you commit to stand amidst both the wheat and the weeds of your life and ask questions which push you forward into greater wholeness and intimacy with our Creator.

 

God's power is never the power of a muscle, a speed, a physical attractiveness, a brilliance or a grace which (as the contemporary expression has it) blows you away and makes you say: "Yes, there is a God!" The world's power tries to work that way.

God's power though is more muted, more helpless, more shamed and more marginalized. But it lies at a deeper level, at the ultimate base of things, and will, in the end, gently have the final say.

So what does God's power look like?

If you have ever dreamed a dream and found that every effort you made was hopeless and that your dream could never be realized, if you have cried tears and felt shame at your own inadequacy, then you have felt how God is in this world.

If you have ever been shamed in your enthusiasm or approach and not given a chance to explain yourself, if you have ever been cursed for your goodness or effort by people who misunderstood you and were powerless to make them see things in your way, then you have felt how God is in this world.

If you have ever tried to make yourself attractive to someone and were incapable of it, if you have ever loved someone and wanted desperately to somehow make him or her notice you and found yourself hopelessly unable to do so, then you have felt how God is in this world.

If you have ever felt yourself aging and losing both the health and tautness of a young body and the opportunities that come with that and been powerless to turn back the clock, if you have ever felt the world slipping away from you as you grow older and ever more marginalized, then you have felt how God is in this world.

And if you have ever felt like a minority of one before the group hysteria of a crowd gone mad, if you have ever felt, first-hand, the sick evil of being violated, abused or taken advantage of, then you have felt how God is in this world... and how Jesus felt on in his last breaths. 

 

Fr. Rolheiser's original mediation was sent in one of his twice-weekly E-newsletters, which you can sign up to receive by email here. This version of the meditation was altered slightly. We also recommend Fr. Rolheiser's book The Holy Longing.

Christmas Eve "Early"

Christmas Eve "Early"

December 20 at 9:00 & 10:45 AM
two opportunities for a special Watershed experience for the whole family
1817 Central Ave • Charlotte NC • 28205
Plaza Midwood

One of our community's most beloved traditions is our annual Christmas Eve service. We decided this year, since so many folks travel over the holidays, that we would move our Christmas Eve experience from the 24th to our Sunday morning gatherings on December 20th so that everyone could take part in the tradition.

At the core of all the celebrating, shopping, decorating, overeating, and various traditions of the Christmas season is a baby, an unwed mother, a carpenter, and a silent night that started it all. On Christmas Eve, Watershed offers a respite from all the holiday chaos where you can take a moment to rest, hit the "pause" button on the pandemonium, and possibly catch a glimpse of the Christmas holiday in its natural state. Join us on December 20th to experience Christmas Eve a little early at Watershed - a contemplative, casual, ambiance-drenched, reflective, family-friendly, 70ish minutes of Christmas-carols-meet-21st-century Christmas Eve service for ALL ages and ALL walks of life. Bring someone you love!

Watershed 10 Year Anniversary Story & Celebration!

Watershed 10 Year Anniversary Story & Celebration!

#Watershed10 was a success! Thank you to everyone who made our ten year celebration possible, from the staff and the volunteers to the past Watersheders who came and visited and the food trucks who joined us for the fun. We couldn't have done it without all of you and we are so grateful for all of the love that was shared through pictures, stories, and music. Send us your photos from the day and we'll post them on our website to commemorate! 

Listen to the podcast of the stories from our celebration here!

Whose Responsibility Is It?

Whose Responsibility Is It?

By Jen Windland

When does trust and faith lead us to abdicate our personal responsibilities?

You’ve probably heard phrases like “Let go and let God” and “Jesus take the wheel” and other sorts of sayings meant to reinforce what we might believe about trust and faith in God, but is there ever a point in which the things we say as reinforcement to our beliefs begin to coerce us into abdicating our personal responsibilities?

There's a scene in a movie called Forgetting Sarah Marshall and in it Peter, played by Jason Segel, is in Hawaii and wants to learn to surf. The resort he is at is one of those insanely expensive, all-inclusive types that has private instructors for almost any activity the island might provide, so Peter heads out to the beach to find an instructor to help him out.

He stumbles upon a hut and meets none other than Chuck, played by Paul Rudd, who agrees to teach him to surf. Chuck’s technique to teach Peter to surf is to tell him, “Don’t do anything. Don’t try to surf. Don’t do it. The less you do, the more you do.” He then tells Peter to pop up on the surf board. Peter does as he’s told and is scolded by Chuck, “That was too much. Do less.”

This continues until Chuck tells Peter to pop up and Peter just lays there on the surf board, not moving a muscle. Chuck comes back with, “Well, you gotta do more than that. Now you’re just laying there looking like you’re boogie boarding."

Honestly, sometimes I’m right there on the surf board of my faith wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. And in a much more complex way, it seems as though our directives can lead us to a little bit of this kind of an internal conversation.

Faith moves us in and out of places where we have complete and total reliance upon God to pull off a miracle when there is seemingly nothing we can do about it, and then there are other times when God seems silent and we are left to our own devices to make seemingly monumental decisions.

As I have probed down into my own heart, and have seen this conversation take place internally in others, I have noticed some consistent patterns that frequent the conversation surrounding this thought.

YOU ARE GOD, AND I AM NOT.

Something very real is exposed when we begin to ask questions of faith and personal responsibility. We begin to notice the gap between what it would take to be God and what it takes to be human. There is a question of vision that begins to arise.

We sometimes blindly trust in the mystery of God and the things we can’t understand that surround him because we are, for the most part, comfortable with the idea that if there is a God, then he should most certainly be capable of seeing some sort of a bigger picture than what we can see. He, hopefully, isn’t limited to the confines of space and time that we are. His vision is infinitely more clear.

This idea, however, exposes our inability to see. It puts us in the position of the kid holding the parent’s hand as they make their way through a crowd. The kid hoping that the parent is going in the right direction. The parent just asking the kid to trust them and to continue to take another step. 

FEAR

Another piece to the conversation that typically arises is some sort of fear. It is usually wrapped up in a fear of failure, but I’m sure there are other forms it could take as well.

Often when it comes to personal responsibility, undertaking a task, or making a decision, it is a certain step towards possible, inevitable or statistically probable failure. No one succeeds at every point, at every turn and in every situation. So some, instead of taking a step towards failure, will turn in fear to make statements that put the responsibility on God.

On a side note, this person will most likely blame God when things in life go wrong. Again, abdicating personal responsibility.

LAZINESS

This one was me.

I grew up in a home where trust was paramount. Some of the clearest conversations I had with my parents as I was growing up were about trust. There were two things that warranted a spanking when I was a kid, lying and disobeying. And when I went to kindergarten I remember my parents telling me I had two objectives in going to school. Learn to tell the truth, and learn to get along with other people.

The fascinating thing about my childhood wasn’t that they placed such a high priority on trust, but that my parents were actually trustworthy! I’m sure there were bumps in the road of trust along the way, certainly on my end, and possibly on their end, but when the parent-child relationship shifted when I went to college and moved out there was a sense in which there was a general mutual trust.

That trust was transferred to God. People often say that your primitive views of God stem from your views of your father, and for me, that was a pretty good deal. I trust my father, and so I trust God. Pretty simple.

Well, later down the road that trust in God began to get me pats on the back when I should have been getting kicks in the rear. I would use words like “patience” and “faith” as ways to get out of talking about how my life was stalling out. Deep down I did trust God, and unfortunately I knew that I could say the right words so that I wasn’t held responsible for my life or my future. It was in “god’s hands”.

This kind of laziness, at it’s most basic level is a type of immaturity. It’s the kind of laziness that can either continue well into adulthood or can come face to face with the consequences of reality. Fortunately for me, I landed on the latter. But that’s another blog for another day.

PEACE

Ideally, faith and trust in God leads to peace. If you had a father or father figure whom you couldn’t or can’t trust, you might have immense anxiety when this conversation arises. You may never come to a place of peace with this, but I hope that there is in some way a sliver of hope that it is possible.

The kind of peace I’m talking about is a deep internal peace that allows you to operate fully present in the moment with the weight of responsibility firmly pushing you forward while tranquilly understanding that there are forces outside of your control that have to be let go.

This kind of peace breeds freedom, not fear. It pushes you harder than you’ve ever been pushed. Away from laziness and into maturity. It gives you some semblance of balance and wholeness that comes from a partnership with God, not in resistance to God.

It allows you to see clearly your own personal limitations and embrace them with a sense of deep understanding. A knowing that penetrates the barrier between what we wish things could be and what is reality. In this sense we begin to see more clearly who and what God is and who and what we are.

I'm Thankful for Serving with Catapult Because...

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we asked our Catapult volunteers to reflect on why they are thankful for serving the students and teachers at Byers. Read a few of their responses below! 

I am thankful for serving with Catapult because…

...it reminds me of a beautiful cliche: To the world I may be one person, but to one person I may be the world. It's so easy to feel insignificant with the massive scope of hurting out there. But, if you direct your energy in a concentrated way, it becomes clear what an enormous impact we can have.

 …of my relationship with my student, Alaysha. She and I have worked together for 3 years; she knows about things in my life that only my good friends know. Her mom and I text once in a while and I get photos of Alaysha from her, which make me so happy. We are very comfortable with each other and she makes me feel like what I say and do and stand up for really matter. I am thankful that I know about a portion of our community that some try and brush over!

 …I can pray regularly for a teacher that is working with a special world of children and I can be an encourager in a practical way.

 …I am serving with a group of amazing, giving people who love on our kids in the community.

 …every week when I meet with my student, I am reminded of God’s amazing love and patience for me and that He gives me the strength to give that love and patience in return.

 …it gives me a specific way to connect with Charlotte.

 … I get to create a (hopefully) impactful relationship and help an awesome girl navigate some key years in her life!

 …it matters. Not just to the students and staff, but also to me.

 …selfishly, it makes me feel good. The smiles, the accomplishments and the back and forth with a mischievous young man are just a few of the things that I am so thankful for. 

 …my student, Elijah, is the joy of my week. He's kind, he's smart, he's artistic and talented. He's been learning from me, yet I find that I get to learn from him as well. He is a blessing to my soul.

 …I believe relationships are what ultimately create lasting change. I love seeing the way the relationships built through Catapult impact both the volunteers and the students/teachers so deeply!

“Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:35

Learn more about Catapult or email Ashley if you’re interested in serving!