The first chapter of Bob Goff's book Love Does is a pretty phenomenal story. As a high schooler, Bob decided he was going to drop out, go climb mountains in Yosemite and get a job working in the valley. He stopped by his YL leaders house to say good-bye and the YL leader Randy volunteered to just go along for the ride. "I'm with you," he told Bob. The two drove across the country to Yosemite, camped out, quickly ran out of money and had no leads on a job. Randy never told Bob that he had messed up and was making a big mistake. He was just there with him. After a few days Bob said, "Ok, I think we should go home." Randy just told him, "I'm with you."
The craziest part comes when they got back home. As they dropped Randy off at his house, Bob realized that just before they had left Randy had gotten married. His house was full of wedding presents and his new wife was waiting for him to get back. Randy had loved Bob so much that he was willing to put his new life on pause to be with him.
Tonight at Wyld Life we talked about the story of Randy and Bob and what it means to "be with" people. How have people shown up in our lives? How can we show up in theirs?
We read the story of Jesus' birth in Matthew 1 and how Jesus was born with the name Emmanuel which means "God with us." Jesus was sent to be with us here on Earth because of God's immense love for us. Now the Holy Spirit lives and goes with us. God is all about being part of our lives.
My parents have always been with me. They're my biggest fans and cheerleaders. They've been prayer warriors in my life for as long as I can remember. They're the first people to volunteer to help me figure something out or make something happen. They're with me.
I tried out for something called The Pull my sophomore year at Hope College. It's a very intense tug of war that can't be adequately described through words, but the point is that I wanted to be part of it. I went to the practices to try out with my 9 good friends that all lived on my floor. I still remember the night we found out that the 9 of them had made it and I didn't. I was embarrassed and sad and felt like I was missing out. Instead of celebrating with the rest of the girls that had just made the team, my friend Kim came and just sat on my bed with me in my room. She didn't try to make me feel better, she was just with me in my disappointment. She was with me. I want to be a friend like that.
I had two other great friends at Hope named Lani and Emily. We had just flown back from a week long mission trip in the Dominican Republic and we could finally get reception on our phones again. I had a voice mail from Scott Brosman, the summer camp director at Tecumseh. He offered me the Pathfinder Coordinator position for the upcoming summer and told me I'd be partners with Eric Glanders, Sarah Fitz and Michael Kraft. It was something I had been eagerly waiting and hoping and praying for. I remember beaming as I listened to that voice mail, I could barely contain my excitement. Lani and Emily started jumping up and down in the airport so I excited that I was so excited about something. They had no idea what a coordinator was, didn't know my friends that I'd be working with, had never been to Tecumseh--but they were with me. My joy was their joy.
I think that when we show up for people, when we're with them, we get to be like Jesus. We get to love people wherever they're at. Sometimes it's a celebration and other times it's really difficult but I think we're called to do that for each other.
In 1 John 4 it says, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."
Kid President has an awesome new Letter to the Future that you should watch if you haven't yet. I don't know if he realizes that he is preaching the gospel of love but he totally is. Kid President says, "We need people like you. Wouldn't it be cool if we could all just be cool to each other? Throw kindness around like confetti. Be the reason someone dances this week. Be bold. Be kind. Be awesome. Then repeat. It's like shampoo, but for your life."
At the end of our small group time KCraig had all of us write a letter to Christy, the owner of Mama Bear's, thanking her for being with us. Normally her coffee shop is closed at night but she opens up just for us to have Campaigners. Then we all wrote one more note to someone that we think God is calling us to be with. Each kid and leader wrote to that person that they want to encourage and love and just say, "I'm with you," to them.