I'm heading down to Orlando early next week for training at National House of Hope again. And I'm doing so knowing the entire world changed in a year, at least for one person. The girl who is going home today stands tall, confident in who she is in Christ Jesus. She carries herself with the poise of a young woman who fears nothing, because she fears the Lord. She smiles knowingly, lovingly, and assuredly at her peers, because she's been there, and she gets it, and she tried that and knew it was nothing, so she surrendered it all and found it all.
This girl laughs all the time, and I miss hearing her laugh already.
This girl hugs and smiles every chance she gets, and she does it like no one else can.
This girl sees others in pain and jumps to go pray for them, and it melts my heart.
When this girl is quiet, it's because the Lord is working something incredible inside her heart and she's listening to what He's saying.
When this girl speaks, you better listen, because she was.
As believers, it's our stock answer to say, "God has a plan for you!" And it's true, don't get me wrong. I see it and live it every day. But I think we fall back on that "plan" phrase, as if we don't need to think about anything else. We just toss it around to each other like it's our duty to remind, not to live.
When I take a second to think past, "God's got a plan for you!" with this girl and I actually consider what that plan is, I'm telling you, He's got things happening! For her, for the rest of the girls here, and for those to come. For our staff, for our supporters, for you reading this. It's okay that we don't always realize that. I think if we did, we probably wouldn't move, we'd freak out and stand still anyway.
People are going to tell her how proud they are of her in the days, weeks, months to come. And that's cool, but I hope it doesn't become so common a phrase that the gravity of the message gets lost. Only we, inside ourselves, can know how proud to be, because we, inside ourselves, walked it.
I know pride is a sticky word for believers, but we can use pride the right way, and be okay. Accomplishment matters, and we can't negate His work in our life because we fear the word "pride."
So we are proud, and we send her off saying:
Keep your eyes on Jesus, but you know that.
He's got you, but you know that.
Love others, as He loves you, but you know that.
Give it all to Him, but you know that.
He will never leave you or forsake you, but you know that.
We keep our door open at House of Hope Minnesota for graduates to call, text, write, message, and visit. We want to be a resource for them when things are tough, but also when things are good. Because both will happen.
I've seen enough girls come and go in my years here that I know at these graduations, we emphasis to families to be prepared because it's not easy and it's not perfect. Stuff happens. Tough stuff, even bad stuff. We don't want anyone to walk away expecting that they've finished the race, only to find it's barely just begun. And I think it's important that we do prepare them for reality...
...It will be GOOD too. It will be BEAUTIFUL too. It will be JOYFUL and SWEET and FUNNY. It will be AMAZING and INSPIRING. Some days will bigger and better. Some days won't. But many will...
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV
(In case you missed it: it will be good, because JESUS).