“Even though we had some standing as Christ’s apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.”
-1 Thes 2:8 msg
A few weeks ago I opened my laptop and saw the news of Eugene Peterson’s passing. After skimming a few articles and listening to some old interviews I found myself sitting in my counseling practice with a box of tissues and tears falling on my thrifted copy of the Message.
Eugene shared in this interviewthat his goal of writing the Message was simply to learn the language of his people and give them a closer glimpse into who Jesus is. He dedicated 20 years of his life to crafting this Bible paraphrase! The interviewer then proceeded to ask: “In a word, what is the most important thing about pastoring?” and without any hesitation or pause, Eugene responded with a sly smile: “relationships.”
I’ve been involved with Young Life for the past twenty years and relationships is also the one word we often use to describe our model and mission of leading others to Jesus. I believe that we in Young Life share a similar heartbeat to that of Eugene Peterson on this front because that is what Jesus is all about. He spent most of His days here on earth with ordinary, outcast people, like you and me, whom he viewed as friends, speaking in our language. With humility “He made himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant” as it says in Philippians, and as Young Life leaders you take on that role too. You enter into a world of middle and high schoolers and choose to share your hearts and the love of Jesus with them by the way you call them by name and show up.
I love the way Eugene worded 1 Thes. 2:8 as he writes: “Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.” When you think about your high school friends, I imagine this is what comes to mind for you as well. I pray that everyday when you head to the school, you would walk confidently in the high honor that you get to go meet people where they are and bring light in the darkness. When you are standing in the student section or driving someone home from club, remember that you don’t have it all together, yet you have a real hope to share.
If you get a chance, I challenge you this week to crack open the poetic Psalms penned by this suffering saint of a man who is now worshipping and dancing with our Maker. Eugene had a way of bringing us all into the fold and reminding us how to rest in Jesus.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” -Matthew 11:28-20
I won’t pretend to know what you might be carrying into the week ahead, friends. I will, however, suggest that if you are anything like me the words freely and lightly carry much appeal. So I am praying them both over you as I am for myself as we enter this month of gratitude and thankfulness here in November. I pray you will see His hand as you love!
May you find rest each day as you “walk with and work with” Jesus in the days ahead.
You can find Meredith McDaniel on instagram: @meredith_mcdaniel where she helps others taste the land of milk + honey here on earth. She is wife to Ben McDaniel on Young Life staff in Lake Norman and a mom of 3. She is a licensed counselor and author. To receive her weekly newsletter sign up here:Manna for Monday