Wasteland Kings

Experiencing great fellowship in the context of working towards an eternal purpose is incredible. There is nothing quite like it. I’ve gone on a few kinds of adventures and nothing else tops it. 

God invited me to enjoy this wonderful source of satisfaction on another trip to Albania. Again, it was an experience which changed me. Again, I am even more grateful than I expected to be. 

I set out on this trip thinking that the team needed my leadership to succeed. This was my pride and it sadly blocked my heart from experiencing some of what God had for me. My prideful perspective distracted me from enjoying the pleasure of a prize I did not earn. 

The trust my team put in me and my co-leaders was more than we could’ve earned during our training. The trust my co-leaders put in me was something I did not earn. I am quite grateful for this. 

The energy and excitement my team brought was also much greater than I deserved. Even the day after traveling for more than 20 hours, they were engaged in energetic in activities. This energy and excitement continued while sickness and lack of sleep affected them. 

Lastly, I did not earn the right to speak into their lives and their hearts. I had the chance on a few occasions to do this and I am humbled by each opportunity. Back in January, I couldn’t have picked out some of these people from a lineup. 

This didn’t slow down the awesome conversations I got to have with some of the people on the team. 

I went into this trip pridefully thinking my awesomeness would help get results. That’s not what happened. God’s awesomeness brought me one cool experience after another. 

I got to watch Albanians bond with Americans. I got to see people teach for the first time (they were great by the way). I got to watch God work through someone and use their words and actions to soften the heart of another. 

Those things would have happened without me being there. I was not the catalyst. And that’s some of the best news I have ever heard. 

It’s easy to think we need to be awesome so that we have value. We tend to think that we’ll miss out on things if we’re not good enough. It’s easy to think we’ll miss out on relationships, adventures, and fun times if we don’t earn enough value in other people’s eyes. 

What if an all powerful God values us so much that he wants to give us those things?

I don’t mean that God wants to make all your circumstances easy either. I do mean to say God values you and wants you to have life to the full. (John 10:10) Many times life to the full doesn’t come from easy circumstances. 

Ask my team if all the training and other time commitments for the trip were easy. Spoiler alert, they weren’t easy and yet God brought us through them. On the other side of those challenges, he gave us new friendships and the pleasure of seeing lives change. 

Going through the challenges of training and traveling didn’t earn us the joys of our trip. Both the challenges and the satisfactions were gifts from a God who values us more than we can imagine. He gives me things I do not deserve even while I am stuck in my entitlement. 

How great is that?

I did not deserve to be a co-leader on this team. I did not earn the right to enjoy the trip God gave me and the rest of the team. God made all of it happen though. 

He doesn’t want me to earn his love. He invites me to sink into it and enjoy it. The best parts and the hardest challenges of this trip were an expression of God’s love for me. 

I am sad this particular expression has come to an end. My heart still longs for some of the particular joy, peace, and satisfaction I experienced on the trip. I have made six new friends though and the bond I have with them will not fade in the near future or break easily. 

Also, as the trip sadly settles into my past, I have a new opportunity to trust God. He loved me enough to invite me onto this year’s trip to Albania. He makes it clear through the Bible that his love is steadfast and that he does not change. 

Will I trust in his faithfulness to bring me more adventures and help me maintain the new friendships I have made?

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Matthew Rial