I remember being confused when first hearing the lyrics to the song “El Gran Yo Soy” (“The Great I Am”) by Hillsong.
The meaning got lost in translation. I didn’t understand why I was singing about how great I am. But I sang along anyway, thinking that maybe it meant that God made me great or something.
Then one day it hit me… OH! God referred to Himself as “I Am” in the Old Testament. The song actually had nothing to do with me, but it was all about God’s greatness.
In ministry, it’s easy to make the same mistake. I know that Ethan and I tend to look at all we accomplish and say, “Wow! Gran yo soy (I am great)!” Even others state the same thing as they observe fruits of our labor.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.” -1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Recently we had to say goodbye to the teens at the clubhouse, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
We had spent the last year and a half investing in them, staying up late to plan lessons for them, drinking coffee with their families, and walking with them through the highs and lows of adolescence. For Ethan and I, they became like our own kids.
When circumstances ripped the clubhouse away from us abruptly, our response consisted of a lot of emotions:
Anger. Frustration. Grief. Sadness. Bitterness.
It didn’t seem to make sense. Why would God allow such an amazing ministry to be put to an end so quickly, when there was so much fruit!? What is going to happen to our students after we leave? Who is going to disciple them?
And in the midst of all of our emotions and grieving, our pride was exposed. Our pride had spun out of control, and we were taking the Lord’s work into our own hands. We honestly believed that it was up to us to bring the Gospel to these adolescents.
But it wasn’t us, it was the Holy Spirit working through us to draw His people nearer to Him.
We do not understand why the Lord has allowed this to happen, but we know one thing for certain: whether our role was only to plant or water, He is the One who will bring the growth.
We say it all the time: This is not our mission, it is the Lord’s. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to share the Gospel with the youth of the clubhouse, but let’s be real. It was not our efforts that brought those kids to Jesus–it was the work of the Holy Spirit. It was God the Father pursuing His children passionately. It was the Gran Yo Soy who gave the growth.
So instead of worrying about these youth, I will pray for them by name every day because at the end of the day, they are better off not in my hands, but in the hands of the Great I Am.