Thursday, September 16, 2010

"God willing...I shall return."

Today is my last full day in Dunedin, New Zealand. I feel like there’s a Hobbit stepping on my sternum. Like, I feel a tiny weight in and on my chest right now. It’s pretty weird and all I can do is chalk it up to the love and burden I have for this place and these people. It’s been pretty life changing being here for 11 weeks.

As a ministry team, we’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re all completely at the mercy of God for everything. We are totally dependent on Him to move in men to meet with us. We’re totally dependent on Him to grow the seed that we’ve planted and watered. We’re totally dependent on God to save. We can’t “lead people in prayers.” We can’t convince them to “get saved.” We can’t articulate the Gospel so well that their eyes get opened. And on and on I could go.

All we can do is faithfully live out and share the gospel, and pray that God does something supernatural. All we can do is live faithfully and hope God does something incredible, because even if we live faithfully according to His word, He can still tarry and withhold His loving hand from those with whom we labor—He owes men nothing (Romans 9 and 11). But praise God that He takes great pleasure in the salvation of men. For His Glory, he calls men and women out of spiritual death and into life with Him.

I don’t know much, but if He chooses to save the guys I’ve labored with, I’m going to go be an absolute, over-joyed mess. I will probably cry in a way I’ve never cried before. I’ll dance in a way I’ve never danced before. I’ll laugh in a way I’ve never laughed before. My hope is in Christ alone, but a deep-heart felt prayer is for the salvation of these dudes here at this university.

I told Megan the other day that this place has cut me deep. I feel the weight of this country’s desperate need for Christ and this place has helped me sense my own continual need for Jesus as well. A question that haunts me (in a good way) is: “Why me? Why did He save me?” I mean, he could have left me alone in my sin and allowed it to destroy me. But, he didn’t. He saved me. I see this country’s apathy—most of them just don’t care about Christ at all. But, I care and I want them to know Jesus. God willing, I’m coming back here. I’m coming back to this place if He’ll let me.

Tomorrow, I am leaving New Zealand. Tomorrow, I will rejoice in who Christ is and what He is doing in New Zealand. Tomorrow, I will have clear eyes. Tomorrow, I will have a full heart. Tomorrow, I will say, “God willing, I shall return.”

-Nate Xanders

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Supremacy of Christ in Carpentry and Patience

When everyone abandoned me here—I mean, when everyone left for the States, I had to break down all of our bunk beds and stuff. Then Josh informed me that we would build a shelf in the shed/garage so we could store the mattresses and broken down bunk pieces. So we started doing this little project and about four hours later we (and when I say we, I mean Josh, because I knew from the start this would take forever) realized how deep we were into this thing. So we kept at it and with about an hour worth of work left, Josh looked down at his watch and said, “Well, time to go home.”

I’m still blown away by the fact that we were so close and he called it a night. So a week later, here I was by myself looking at this cluttered shed. And I finished the carpentry alone. As I was cutting the wood and nailing it into place, I thought about how amazing it is that Christ spent years and years as a carpenter and never sinned. It’s such a frustrating task. Cutting wood in that shed just warred against me—and that’s what Jesus did for a living. He was a carpenter. The tools he had to work with were archaic compared to my power saw and drill. Now, I would argue that He, as the God of the universe, had a “slight” carpentry advantage, since He did it professionally for over two decades and, oh I don’t know, made all the trees by speaking them into existence and then holding them in place by the power of His word. I’m just saying, I don’t think Jesus ever cut the wood incorrectly—but that’s complete conjecture, I know. None of that is really the point.

One thing is for sure, I don’t think I have the patience to do carpentry six days a week for over 20 years. But Jesus did. Carpentry takes unbelievable patience. And we know that Christ is perfectly patient. As I thought about Christ as a carpenter, I couldn’t help but think of His patience as Savior and Lord. I thought about His unreal patience with me and with us. My prayer is that His patience with these guys here in Dunedin would be displayed to them. Our prayer should be that they would come to Christ and taste His mercy, His grace, His love, and His patience—just as we have.

Please pray for Hugh, Team Duff and Team Studholme as I labor with them. They have all returned from their semester break and today I get to hangout with these guys. Hugh has been reading “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel and is really enjoying it. Team Duff is still reading John and still asking great questions—please pray that I would ask great questions as well. Join me in praying that God would reveal Himself to them and display His supremacy and His supreme patience to them.