The Beautiful Mess

Lucho Llanca April 2, 2021

In this season we have been stretched in ways we couldn’t have predicted — so much that in some moments we felt like we would break.

At the beginning of Lent in 2020, I wondered what I needed to give up or let go of in my life — something we commonly do during Lent — in order to be more focused on God. As I contemplated this decision, the pandemic radically turned our lives upside down.

I believe there aren’t any more relational creatures in the world than Young Life leaders. During this time, we have been separated from the things we like to do the most; and in many ways, separated from the reason we said “yes” to being part of this mission — because we get to be with kids. 

I want to share what we have learned in the Greater Houston Region during this season:

  • We have learned that our leader is Jesus Christ. We must not forget Christ is the “C” we must constantly pursue and fix our gaze upon for everything; otherwise, we will only be distracted. The danger of leading in Young Life at times is that it can be so fun we forget the meaning behind it all — Christ (Hebrews 12:2).
  • We have also learned that during these years of doing what we love so much, we have placed more trust in our personal gifts, in our experience and in each system we have created. We have put our trust more in our top donors and we have neglected our only Supplier — the One in charge of giving us everything we need. For from Him everything comes (Psalm 121:1-3).
  • We have discovered in a radical way we are NOT in control (we have never been), and the best thing about this is we have returned to the root of our ministry and its foundation which is to pray at all times. “Prayer tomorrow starts today, or there is no prayer tomorrow.”
  • My board chair asked me what we’ve been doing differently to be so blessed. I answered him, “I think it is praying without stopping, and praying in despair”

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This year we have faced many fears: 

  • How we will fulfill our budgets?
  • How we will be able to reach new kids for Jesus?
  • Our leaders are tired and under a lot of stress, and this does not allow them to operate in the best way.

At the same time we have experienced these fears, we have also been filled with a supernatural peace that overwhelms our thoughts. It is the peace that none of this has been a surprise to God and He is with us taking care of every detail we need.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4, NIV

We have suddenly been emptied of so many things we love to do that fill us with joy. Never, in 24 years of ministry, have I met other leaders as persistent as Young Life leaders. What we have learned during this time is that many things can be taken from us, but what cannot be taken is the source of so much love. Christ in us has transformed us and makes us keep trying every day to reach one more kid for Jesus. And the reason behind it all is that we want everyone to experience this beautiful, incredible love that continues to transform us. This is what we want to share with every kid, the love of Christ.

He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss.

Psalm 23:2, The Passion Translation

Finally, despite how difficult everything seemed at the beginning, we have always seen through each challenge the light at the end of the road. We have seen how God is always working and glorifying Himself through it all, as He is the hero of everything we face, both in the past and the future. Let’s not forget this.

This season, God brought to me a painting I have spent hours meditating on. It is called “The Beautiful Mess” by Daniel Bonnell. There couldn’t be a better name to describe this season; when you look at the painting in detail you can see how light always prevails within darkness or disorder.

“The Beautiful Mess” by Daniel Bonnell

The message we must remember is: “We do not fight for victory, we fight through victory.” The tomb is empty and we already know that no matter what we have been through or what is to come, we are on the winning team. Always.

I love you all,

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