This past week I had the privilege of joining our Senior High youth on their mission trip to Slidell, Louisiana. We were there to work with the Epworth Project, which has helped to rebuild the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. We had a theme song for the week and the chorus said, “For you and you alone, awake my soul, awake my soul and sing.”
Usually theme songs on these trips are decent, but this one was incredible. If I had to describe what occurred on this mission trip I would simply reiterate this chorus; our souls were awakened.
Every once in a while we experience moments when the Spirit of God is unmistakably present, moments that shape and transform our lives because they touch a part of our souls that we cannot access on a normal day. We experienced this type of transformation while in Slidell.
For most of my life I have been frustrated when God didn’t show up in the way I wanted or in my preferred timing. When these moments occurred, I would go looking for God, but I could never seem to find God in the places where I thought to look. This would always frustrate me because I like to be in control.
The most powerful spiritual moments in my life have almost all occurred in unexpected places, during unexpected times. Places where room was made for God to move, times when I was opened to an experience instead of looking for God on my terms.
Mission trips are some of the best times and places for a spiritual awakening. For one thing you are in worship each night and serving the Lord each day. But honestly I think that the exhaustion is one of the most powerful factors. When you are exhausted it is much more difficult to maintain any sort of disingenuous facade. Your defenses come down, and your authentic personality is much more present on the surface.
These are the moments when God shows up in a mighty way.
I’ve seen this happen in hospital rooms and funeral homes, in worship services and on football fields, and I saw it happen this past week in Slidell, Louisiana. I saw it happen in the youth who experienced a transformational week, I saw it in my fellow adult chaperones, and I saw it in my own heart when God showed up and awakened my soul.
My friends, you don’t have to go on a youth mission trip to have an experience like this, though I’ve never been on a mission trip in which this didn’t occur, so let us know if you want to join us next year.
You don’t have to go on a youth mission trip, but you do have to make space for God to move. We are called by God to step out on faith, but we cannot do this unless we have honestly experienced the transformational grace of God in our lives.
In the book of Romans Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
If you attend worship during the next two Sundays, you will hear a lot more about our experiences on our two mission trips. For now, let me simply tell you that the Spirit of God felt like a raging river this past week, and if you haven’t had your soul awakened by God in a while, I hope that you find a place to meet with God.
Have a wonderful week my friends,