Hi to all my ministry partners and more!
Can you believe it's August already? It's crazy to me to think that summer is already coming to an end because it feels like it just started!
I think regardless of the pace, however, this summer has been packed full of crazy moments and lessons that will shape me in my faith for years to come. In my last blog, I talked about the idea of God teaching me steadfastness and patience. WELL, turns out God wanted to teach me a lot more than just patience this month, but I'll get to that here in a bit. First, I want to share a few thoughts and reflections from this past month on patience.
Growing up, I always thought of the idea of patience as a pretty stale word. The only idea associated with it was 'wait'. "Have patience and wait your turn, Orion", "don't you know patience is a virtue?", "good thinks come to those who wait"-little phrases like this shaped my view of it, and still do at times. Yet, I've been witnessing God change that more and more over the years-especially this summer.
In the Bible, God is referred to as being 'long-of-nose'. Long story short, the Israelites used a lot of imagery language to describe the world around them. So, in this case, when someone would become angry, it was common for their nose to become hot and red (which is why there's a typical caricature of someone's face becoming red when they're angry). God being described as 'long-of-nose' therefore means it takes a while for him to become angry, as a long nose wouldn't warm as quickly as a shorter nose. This is what is referred to as his patience throughout the Old Testament, which, compared to my version of patience, is very different. God's version of patience isn't about waiting, but about persevering and being non-impulsive. Whether this means with my reactions, emotions, or thoughts, as a Christian, if I am to imitate my God, I am to be 'long-of-nose' and not just 'wait my turn'.
This has been pivotal to me this summer because I very quickly have come to realize just how quick I can be to become frustrated with myself, others, or circumstances. With being newly married, I've expected myself to be the perfect wife or Connor to be the perfect husband. With my emotions, I've been quick to get frustrated and angry at myself for not having them more under control at moments. And with life circumstances, I've been quick to be frustrated at how hard certain moments are or why it seems like Connor and I can't catch a break. These are just a few examples of some of the things I've ran into this summer, but from these moments, I've noticed God welcoming me into embracing his patience. Out of his Spirit, I get to be 'long-of-nose' and have mercy for myself and others when things are going the way I envision. Heck, life shouldn't go the way I envision because I'm not God. So, why should I be so concerned over the ways of the world and not the Kingdom?
Just some thoughts and takeaways that I hope you can relate you.
Anywho, this month also included CTF Camp! Christian Teen Fellowship (CTF) is our family of churches teen ministry. So, think like a youth group. This ministry has a huge place in my heart because of getting to intern with them a couple of years ago. Even more so, I think what is so special about this ministry is the idea that there isn't a sole youth pastor, but instead, full-time working adults volunteer their time to meet with a teen one on one and study the bible with them. This I think is so pivotal, especially in watching one teen meet with Connor every week and the type of relationship they have.
So, every summer, they take the students out to New Mexico for a week of camping and getting to know God on a deeper level. My intern year I went, and last year I wasn't able to go. So, I was SUPER pumped for getting to go this year, and man, God was really moving among these teens. One of our churches sayings is that the teens and kids are not the church of tomorrow, but the church of today, and during this week, I watched this play out before my eyes.
Specifically, I want to share one story that was impactful to me. When I did my intern year, I met one teen who was honestly pretty hard to love. She was super reserved, kinda did whatever she wanted, didn't want to worship-heck, none of us really thought she loved God. I remember when we were at camp that year, she was avoid participating and would go back to the cabin consistently.
However, this year, this girl chose to fly into camp right after a tedious time of doing band camp, which was such a commitment to make. The moment she made it to camp, she was super talkative and asking everyone so many questions. I don't know how else to describe it but that she seemed so lighthearted compared to the two years before. I also witnessed her worship and pray in ways that moved a lot of the adults to tears. I even watched as she would look in the crowd of teens during worship and stand by the person who looked a little lonely or lost. Guys, this is not the same girl I met two years ago. On our final night there, we had community sharing, to which we invited the teens to stand up and share about how God had been moving for them this week. Towards the end, she stood up, which had all of us adults wanting to scream, but even more so, she admitted to being nervous and simply said 'but I think me even standing up and talking like this is evident of God working'. Like, what.
Guys, THAT is the power of the Holy Spirit! Sometimes I think we can discredit teens and think they can't actually mature in God until they become adults, but watching this girl, and several other teens, over the years is evidence enough to me that age does not define God working in someone's life. Teens are important and are worth investing into, which is a huge reason why I love working at a community college.
I also just want to take the time to say thank you all so much! I genuinely appreciate all the time, prayer, and resources each of you have poured out in order for me to do ministry this summer and this school year. Please let me know if there's anyway I can be praying for each of you!
Love, Orion Clements