Remind Me to Remember
Our student ministry recently experienced FOCUS, a meaningful weekend devoted to worshipping God, studying the Word, and encouraging one another as we follow Christ together. Like any large event, countless hours are spent planning, preparing, and praying over each detail. Josh and Stephanie Stewart poured themselves fully into orchestrating every aspect, serving the kids, and preparing small group leaders. They equipped the leaders in advance with a small book they wrote—our essential guide to every lesson and discussion.
Two brief pages covered expectations for FOCUS leaders, and several sections addressed areas you might expect: don’t let students be unsupervised, ensure a safe environment, encourage everyone to participate, don’t trash your host home. Yep, check, got it. Those are all important things that deserve our constant attention, yet they’re basic for responsible adults. Then the final portion struck me as profoundly non-basic: Remember the Gospel.
These lines emphasized our ultimate priority: “In everything, point students to Jesus and help them believe the Gospel. In everything, help them to see that their sin and failures are not too big for God to forgive. In everything, bring glory to God and preach the Gospel.” In everything. I can totally commit to that for the weekend. But what would that look like in my own life beyond the event?
What if I really remembered the Gospel in everything? Wouldn’t that change my life? Wouldn’t that rock my world?
If I remembered the Gospel in everything, I wouldn’t be content sharing shallow acquaintances with the Hindu moms in my PTA. I would make every effort to establish a friendship, and I’d do it with loving urgency to point them to Jesus and help them believe (Mark 16:15-16).
If I remembered the Gospel in everything, I would quit replaying my failures in my mental theatre. I would boo those disasters right off the stage and focus the spotlight on the cross. I would surrender my shame and embrace the fullness of forgiveness. I would accept that the punishment I deserve has already been suffered and “It is finished” (Isa. 53:5, 2 Cor. 5:21, John 19:30). Being mindful of the Gospel assures me that my sins are not too big for God to forgive.
If I remembered the Gospel in everything, His love for me would blow my mind again and again. I was once an enemy of God, a child of wrath, dead in my transgressions (Rom. 5:6- 11, Eph. 2:1-7). What kind of love would slaughter His only Son for me? My mind can’t make sense of that, but my heart should rest and rejoice in it.
Maybe your memory is sharper than mine. Perhaps the Gospel is embedded in your brain and you have a constant kung fu grip on the truth, but it often slips my mind. Maybe it’s because my attention is short and I seek distraction. Or because I devote my thoughts to garbage that doesn’t last or even matter. (Or because my once-functional intellect has gradually dissolved into glitter glue.) It’s mostly just this: my wayward heart is “prone to leave the God I love.”l I have to return to the simple message I’ve heard all my life because even after all this time, I often still don’t get it.
It’s more than spiritual amnesia. It’s unbelief. I have to fight this off with the Word of God and dwell deeply on gospel truth. I want that for my own heart and for my children, and it’s what we all want for the students. Events like FOCUS help us—well—focus on the good news intently. It’s the very center of everything we do and every time we gather. Even the fun we have with students is intentional.
These kids think they’re playing Whirlyball, but they’re also making connections and building community. They’re choreographing the Lip Sync Battle, but they’re also practicing humility and serving one another. (How many 13-year-old girls do you know whose actions would say, “I’ve had enough attention. Here, it’s your turn.” But it happens!) These students sit under the faithful instruction of Josh and other leaders, and they see a church body full of teachers who love them. The student ministry is intentional beyond events like FOCUS, and it holds the Gospel high.
I want my whole life to be like that, to proclaim and apply the Gospel in everything. But it can’t overwhelm me and overflow from me unless I proclaim it and apply it to myself. My heart is “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it . . . Bind my wandering heart to Thee” and remind me to remember the gospel.
Jody Mirike is a stay-at-home mom and part-time preschool teacher. She enjoys serving with the student ministry and teaching at Providence Academy. She and her husband, Andy, have three children and have been at Providence for three years.