By Chris Cox
Obeying God is hard. Sometimes we don’t know what He wants. At other times, we don’t want to do what He says. More often than not, we aren’t sure how He will accomplish what He promises because, from where we stand, it seems impossible. This was a conversation the four of us had around midnight, on the first night of the One21 Experience. Three youth pastors and an intern, sitting in the kitchen of a church camp (raiding the kitchen for anything edible), talking through the elements of the next morning. Under the theme of Obedience, we had constructed an element built around a hike to a remote location as the backdrop to the story of Abraham, Isaac, and God. The question to be posed for the students: “How far would we go for God’s blessing?” We are all struggling with the takeaway.
The plan is to invite students to sacrifice their lunch and wait on a reward- to fast, pray, and wait. For what? What is the reward they are waiting for? How does this lesson have practical application? A better dinner than those who didn’t fast seems silly. Root beer floats on a hot afternoon. . .trivial. The reward for waiting on God is much more significant than a trivial meal or confection. We talk, brainstorm, and wait.
Leo knows all about waiting on God. In the summer of 2013, he was invited to intern with Back2Back Ministries in Mazatlan, Mexico. No big deal, right? Except Leo represents a movement happening among some students connected to Back2Back through the Hope Education Program. He grew up in a children’s home, spent his teenage years in the Hope Education Program, and is now a college student, breaking the cycle of poverty in his family. His internship represents more than a summer on mission – it represents God’s story of redemption. Now, Leo is waiting on God again. He wants to go back to Mazatlan as an intern for 2014, to serve and share the gospel with children who share a story like his. But, where are the resources to provide the internship funds for Leo? Where will the help come from?
“That’s it!,” I said to the group over our midnight meal.
I happen to know Leo. I know Leo’s story. I know Leo is waiting, ready to obey. What if we give up our lunches each day of this camp? What if we ask the camp to give us the money from lunch? What if we give the money to Leo for his internship? What if we wait on God, obey his invitation, and He blesses someone else? What if we don’t tell the campers how long they are giving up their lunches? What if we don’t tell them about the blessing until the end?
The guys enthusiastically agree to the idea. The next morning, the camp director is pitched the idea, and he agrees whole-heartedly. For four days, 50 people come to the station of Obedience, hear the story of Abraham and Isaac, and are challenged to give up their lunch and wait on God. The campers give up their lunch each day and dream of what they will get in return. Some think ice cream, some think Starbucks, the dreamers think it’s Chipotle.
Friday comes. I ask the campers this question, “How many of you woke up this morning thinking, ‘I should have eaten lunch yesterday?'” No one. Why? Because we ate dinner. Lunch was very forgettable. Giving up lunch, though, provided the resources to pay 100% of Leo’s intern costs for Back2Back. Sometimes, obedience leads to blessing in ways we can’t see yet. Leo obeyed God and applied for an internship, asked for support, and promised to share his story. The students obeyed by trusting their leaders, in hopes of a great reward. The leaders obeyed, inviting students to give up lunch and give away their resources.
Now, Leo is spending the month in Mazatlan. Sharing the Gospel with fatherless children. A few forgettable meals became one unforgettable moment.