The past five weeks have been filled with some of the most joyful and difficult, yet fruitful times of my life. Never before have I seen a group of people my age live out the gospel to the fullness it was at the Bluffs, painting a beautiful picture of what Christ's church is to look like.
While I was there, the golden question was, "What's the biggest lesson you've learned while being here?" By the time it was time to leave and I would be asked that question, I would want to say, "Ha, well, do you have 3 hours to spare?"
Just to give you a taste of what I learned:
Over the weeks, during my quiet time I would study a fruit of the spirit-patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control, love, joy, goodness and faithfulness. It consisted of me taking one of these and over the course of a few days taking it apart and discovering what it meant through scripture and how it should translate into my life. It made me realize how God encompasses all of these things and the fullness to which he offer these to us, and for us to take that and be a reflection to the world. It made me see how his kindness is contageous and over-flowing. He is faithful to his people, always providing what he promises to provide. I saw how Christ is always in pursuit of our hearts, no matter how often we push away; he is never-ceasing in the pursuit of us. I saw his gentleness melt the iciest of hearts, with compassion and grace accompanying it. I understood how Christ provides us with self-control when our human bodies cannot; He is always enough, and with Him we are left in want of nothing but Him. The fact that God offers this freely to us, a broken and completely undeserving people, is utterly amazing to me.
What is service? It's not just an act, but also an attitude. Yes, anyone can serve or be patient or be generous with their time or money, but it's how you approach it that makes it glorifying to God. Serving with a joyful attitude, even in the midst of doing something that you are less-than-thrilled about doing. It's funny, because service is not my love language, but serving at Pine Cove showed me how I can love people to the fullest while serving them. Totally awesome. I also learned huge lessons on patience. Anyone can wait and see something out, but can you do so with an expectant and joyful heart? That's what makes the difference in the eyes of the Lord.
No, this is definitely not all that I obtained at my time at Pine Cove. I learned so much about myself, my weaknesses and my relationship with Christ. What it really means to die to myself, and what that is to look like from the most important to the most miniscule of things. Never before could I see such a drastic difference in when I act in my own power versus when I surrender to God to fully handle a situation for his purposes and his glory. The community that was built was unlike any I had experienced before, and while I'm now home with my parents and brother, I left another family back at the Bluffs. I don't think any of them will truly ever know the huge impact they had on my life and what an encouragement they were those mere 5 weeks we were together. Each person is so dear to my heart, and I am so blessed by having them in my life.
I came to Pine Cove with the mindset of it being a one-summer thing. Oh no, it will be engraved in my heart and memory always, and Lord willing, not the last time I will be able to be there.
"So my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 1 Corinthians 15:58