Last weekend, I attended the Passion Conference in Houston. It was simply amazing. I cannot adequately describe the awesomeness of 17,000 people praising God with uplifted hearts, hands, and voices. The speakers were phenomenal. The group I went with became very close-knit by the end of our weekend together. Over the course of the twenty-eight hour round trip, we had beautiful, uplifting, enlightening, raw conversations about our faith, our lives, and who we are as people.
I could go on for hours about all that stuff. But what I really want to tell you about is a little more frivolous.
We arrived in downtown Houston at around 6:45 p.m. on Friday evening, forty-five minutes before the conference was scheduled to start. We parked the van and made our way to the Toyota Center. With our tickets scanned and our rendezvous point planned, myself and two other girls from our group made our way into the arena and down on the floor where we found three seats not far from the stage. Thousands of people were already seated. Everyone was anticipating the start of worship.
As it goes when college students are gathered in one place in large numbers, people started to get antsy. They were acting very silly. People were tossing around paper airplanes, yelling nonsense into the crowd, and feeding off of the excitement to become even more excited. Soon, the inevitable happened.
A group started doing the wave.
It started out with only four or five people. They were sitting directly to my right, in front row arena seats. It grew slowly, spreading out above them to their section, and then to the section on their right, and on from there. As each section became aware, only a smattering of people would join in. Soon, though, more and more people realized what was going on, and the wave grew and grew and grew until it swept through the entire arena, spiraling around and around and involving almost everyone. It was awe-inspiring.
It made me think of the passage in 1 Corinthians 1, where Paul writes:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31, ESV)
A lot of times, we feel insignificant. We think to ourselves, “How could God use someone like me for His will? I mess up all the time. And I’m just one person. How much can one person do?” We believe that we are inadequate.
But God has different ideas. Our strength is not in ourselves, it is in Christ. We are weak and we are foolish, but we have a God who is all powerful and who is the ultimate wisdom. He is the one who does the work in us and through us by the Holy Spirit. He chooses us specifically to be a part of His amazing masterpiece, not because of our own abilities, strengths, and wisdom, but because of His love for us. He chose to place us into Christ so that we can have a relationship with Him here on earth and an eternal existence with Him in heaven. If people saw that we could be good on our own, they would not turn to God. But when they see the light and strength of God shining through us, they turn to Him.
You might feel small and insignificant, as if you will never be a part of God’s work, but that is not true. God is our strength. God is our confidence. If we are in Christ, we will live effective lives because God promises to work in and through us. And God always follows through with His promises.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13, ESV)