JH Ranch Day 5

At the beginning of the week, I watched a middle schooler crawl into a cabinet to hide for a game of tag. It’s astounding how small middle schoolers are and what they can do because of their size.

This week, I watched middle schoolers get even smaller.

5 days ago, walls were big. It seemed like no one would be able to climb over the walls that these kids had built.

But God did.

What happens when walls are knocked down? Whatever is on the other side is revealed, and it usually looks very small when compared with the wall that concealed it. When big walls are knocked down, small objects are revealed.

Middle schoolers look small on the outside, but many of them feel even smaller on the inside. This week we saw fear, shame, doubt, and insecurity slowly rise to the surface. Day by day, the Spirit would tear down a brick, and another, and then another. And we would start to see over that large wall, and what we saw was small.

Smallness tends to scare us because it’s vulnerable. When we see how small we are, we feel weak and helpless. But small is good, because it sheds light on just how big of a God we need.

Tonight as Connor spoke, he shared words from John the Baptist in John 3:30:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

As he explained the text, he gave us yet another challenge: what if we stepped out of the way so God could break through? What if we resolved to decrease ourselves so God’s glory and goodness could increase in our lives?

The walls we build refuse to be decreased; they demand to be increased, but they can never be increased enough to make us feel big. At the end of the day, we end up feeling small again, trapped behind the big wall that we’ve built to contain our weaknesses. Our sin deceives us into thinking that we will be safe if we continue to increase ourselves.

Connor commissioned us to stop trying to fight sin on our own, to stop hiding behind our walls, and instead to simply draw near to the God we had been speaking about who “so loved the world.” By drawing close to God, he increases, and our sin decreases. He continued to explain that the more time we spend with God, for the sole purpose of knowing him, the more our sin decreases. The increase of God leads to the decrease of ourselves, and the decrease of ourselves leads to freedom from the wall.

The smallness of these kids was revealed this week, but so was the vastness of our God. These kids are all in different places on the road to wall excavation. Some had only a few bricks torn down. Some had half the wall knocked down. Some had their barriers removed completely, and the gospel met their smallness with a large love. No matter where these kids—or any of us for that matter—find themselves on that road, God is actively breaking walls down. His glory is increasing in the eyes of these kids, and as a result, their sin and shame and fear are decreasing.

As we wrapped up the week, Connor left us with one last challenge. He asked,

“What are you being called to decrease in as you go home? What does God want you to decrease in order that he might increase in your life?”

I think we’re all still trying to figure this out on some level. But we know that God is faithful to complete the work he began in us, and if he has begun to tear down the walls, he will continue to tear down so he can build back up. He makes us realize our smallness, and he steps in immediately with the large offering that is himself.

Kids got smaller this week, but they gained more than they could have imagined 5 days ago. God decreased the walls, and he increased himself. And he’s not done. His glory will continue to increase in Eugene, in Lane County, in Oregon, in this country, and in this world. Walls will decrease, and his glory will increase for all to see. And all who are small will see that God is their great treasure.


How you can pray for us:

-for safe travels back home tomorrow.

-for God-centered conversations on the ride back home. God isn’t finished working in this week yet.

-for any who are lingering in their decision to commit to the gospel.

-for the Spirit to continue to break walls down.

-for unity and solidarity as these kids head back home.

-for the Word to embed itself in the hearts of these kids, so they won’t forget how God increased himself in their lives this week.

-for kids to be poured into by leaders and peers as they settle in at home, and for them to begin pouring out the gospel to others.

-for the world to be changed by the gospel by the change that has taken place in the lives of these 174 campers.

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