Urbana 2018: Faithful Witness
This was my third Urbana, but my first Urbana where I wasn’t a student anymore, now I was an exhibitor. At Urbana 2012, I had committed to pursuing missions and giving my life and dreams to God. At Urbana 2015, God brought healing in the midst of heartbreak and revived the dreams we had begun to dream together since the previous Urbana. This year I was coming into Urbana exhausted and a little jaded by the social and political climate of the last several years. I had taken a break from social media which was helpful, but not a cure for the feelings of hopelessness I was wrestling with. There I was as an exhibitor at this mission conference, connecting students with Anglican missions through Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP) and New Wineskins Missionary Network, and I was feeling numb. I was still committed to missions and knew the importance of coming alongside these young adults as they discern God’s invitation, but my heart was in a self-protective shutdown. Praise the Lord, we belong to a loving and gracious God, who meets us where we are.
In the opening session, René Breuel told us that Revelation is a collection of visions that gives its audience (and us) a new refreshing perspective of Christ. When we have a vision of the future, it changes how we live now. We live in the tension of the “here and not yet”. I find myself often struggling with this tension, getting too focused on the “not yet” without being able to hold onto the truth that Jesus already has paid the ransom for his creation. We studied Revelation 19:11-20:10 where Jesus is called Faithful and True, with justice he judges and wages war. The description of our King of kings and Lord of lords is both awe-inspiring and frightening. The beast and false prophet rise up with their army to take on the army of heaven; but, in verse 20, we see there isn’t even a battle, they are immediately captured and “thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” because victory has already been claimed. We are not waiting to see if at the end of all this sin and brokenness then maybe there will be justice. No! We can rest in the assurance that the victory of Faithful and True is coming. He will have the last word!
As we studied, worshiped, and met students in the exhibit hall, my focus shifted from the brokenness around me to the throne of God. This realignment of my attention changed my heart’s posture from self-protection to being enraptured with my King. This is the cure for my struggle with hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed by the brokenness around and in me. Sarah Breuel shared that in her vision of arriving in heaven, she is walking around in awe of the beauty but searching for Jesus because she has to see him, to behold his face and finally get to look into his eyes. Danielle Strickland asked us if we wanted to see God’s face. My answer is Yes! I too long to look into the face of my savior and have my tears wiped away! But until then, we continue to be on His mission and to be in community, sharing our testimonies and encouraging the saints to press on because the victory is already won.