A World Away
Dylan has been in Lebanon for a little over four weeks now. He is there with nine other college students on a six-week summer project with Campus Crusades. This week they are helping out at an Iraqi refugee camp.
Before Dylan left, his leaders contacted the parents and asked us to write our student a letter that would be presented to him/her at the halfway point of their project. I am hoping that Dylan read his letter before leaving for the refugee camp. If not, he will find excerpts of it here when he returns home.
While you are a world away from us, these are the things I want you to know:
- I want you to know I LOVE YOU DEEPLY. I always have and always will, no matter what.
- I want you to know YOU BELONG TO GOD. He loaned you to your dad and me 20 years ago, and we have done our best to return you to Him. And if your desire to follow Him to the other side of the world is any indication, you too know that you belong to God. That is a very good thing.
- I want you to know I WILL PRAY FOR YOU. I will pray each day of your project—for your safety, for your learning experiences, for your growth in the Lord, for the relationships you will form, for your safe return.
- I want you to know I ADMIRE YOU. You are a risk-taker and a lion tamer (“in a pit with a lion on a snowy day!”), and I admire your courage and your commitment to Christ.
And while you are a world away, these are the things I want for you:
- I want you to OBEY GOD. “To obey is better than sacrifice…” (I Sam.15:22) There is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will. That is life’s sweet spot.
- I want you to LOVE GOD. Remember to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.“(Matt. 22:37) The work you do in Lebanon is good, but remember to do no work or ministry or anything else that becomes more consuming than the one whom you labor for.
- I want you to LOVE OTHERS SACRIFICIALLY. “…Love your neighbors as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you’re tired at the end of a long day. When it’s inconvenient. And when its the hardest thing for you to do at any given moment, love them. The way Christ loves you. Love them.
- I want you to HUMBLE YOURSELF. The reality is that the people you’ll meet in Lebanon don’t need Dylan Dodson. The people of Lebanon need Jesus Christ. Humble yourself each day, all day, so that you do not get in the way of the work God wants to do through you and in you. Never is a man stronger in the Lord than when he humbles himself before the Lord. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” (I Pet. 5:7)
- I want you to BE WISE. “…Whatever else you do, develop good judgement.” (Prov. 4:7b NLT) Make good choices. Even when they’re hard. Even when they cost more than the easy ones. Make choices knowing they have long term consequences and that your life will ultimately bear out the choices you make.
- I want you to GROW IN GRACE AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST (2 Peter 3:18). Take time to spend uninterrupted moments with Jesus. You may be tempted to spend all day working or ministering or building relationships or having fun and never slow down long enough to just be with God. Don’t fall into that trap. Pray. Study your Bible. Meditate on the Word. Mature in Christ.
- And finally, I want you to ENJOY YOURSELF. Laugh often. Smile a lot. Enjoy your new friends. Savor the experiences. Find the positives in the situations and surroundings you find yourself in. Remember, “A joyful heart is good medicine…” (Prov. 17:22). Sometimes that is the help someone is needing in a given moment.
While you’re a world away, Dylan, know that I’ll be here thinking of you, praying for you, missing you, and loving you on any given day.