Normal is the enemy of a full life.
And for me, life was normal.
I was a sophomore in high school, and nothing was shaking.
But Washington, D.C. changed everything.
It was late summer, and I was knee deep in summer assignments. Normal.
Practicing hard for my team’s upcoming Fall season. Normal
Cutting yards for a bit of cash. Normal.
I had signed up to tag along with our youth group to go on Mission Fuge, a camp in Washington, D.C. I’d gone to summer church camp since I was in 5th grade. Normal.
Abnormal smacked me in the face
When we hit the ground in D.C., planning our week out and scoping the work we’d be doing. We were going to be working with some local kids doing, basically, a “Vacation Bible School” with them for a week.
“I got this in the bag,” I thought. I’d done VBS stuff before. I could throw that hat on. And I could rock it.
The following 5 days, though, unwrapped poverty like I’d never seen it. And it wasn’t “poverty” asking for my money and looking a little creepy. It was poverty that looked like me. Poverty that wanted to play basketball. Brokenness that I could be going to school with. Brokenness that broke my heart.
For the first time in my life, “poverty” wasn’t a problem that was simply a nuisance sitting on the side of the interstate begging for booze money. It was a real person. These were real problems with real needs…and God used me, in a minuscule way, to meet those needs. And the Gospel I knew became the Gospel I lived. No longer was “compassion” just what Jesus did on the cross. “Compassion” was what I offered because my King led the way. “Love your neighbor” wasn’t simply the 5th point of a sermon on what I had to do…it was the compelling force breaking my heart and mending others’.
Turns out God used that week to shape the hearts of a handful of teenage guys, like myself. He used that week to drive us to search our own hearts and, over the course of the next two years of high school, God would solidify a small group of guys and prepare us for great work ahead. From that group, 4 would go on to full-time vocational ministry. All because we weren’t satisfied with the “normal” high school experience, the “normal” church experience, or the “normal” relationship with God.
You never know when abnormal is going to happen. Sometimes we choose it. Sometimes it’s chosen for us.
When it happens, thank the Lord. Because Jesus didn’t come to offer us a normal life. He came to give us life to the full. (John 10:10)
Time to embrace the abnormal.