That's the short version of how this event affected me. To explain why, we're going to have to take a scenic drive through the ugliness of my festering, not-quite-dead-yet flesh. Feel free to exit the vehicle at any time if you find yourself growing ill.
Light at the end of the tunnel: If we make it through my old self's rotting corpse in one piece, I'll tell you why Hutchmoot was one of the most beautiful things to happen to it in a long time.
So here are three things you need to know about me:
- I'm insecure. Debilitatingly so. I crave validation and acceptance and live in constant fear of not being good enough to receive them. I thrive on praise and cringe at the slightest hint of criticism. I use other people as benchmarks, caring more that I can compare myself to them than that they are made in the very image of God.
- I'm selfish. I seek my own pleasure, my own goals, my own way, with every wretched breath. I march, jackbooted, over the needs and desires of others. (The exception is when their needs or desires coincide with mine, in which case I tolerate them for a while, as Hitler tolerated Stalin before Operation Barbarossa.)
- The first two things about me are lies. Well, they're starting to become lies. Chapters 4 - 6 of Paul's Letter to the Romans tell me this is true. Like Abraham, I have believed the impossible, and my faith in Christ has been credited to me as righteousness (4:19-25). God has restored my relationship with Himself and given me a glorious hope (5:1-5). In large part, this hope springs from the fact that my old self is dead. When I came to Christ, I died, just as surely as if a divine executioner had stood me up against a brick wall and used an expertly aimed hollow-point round to turn my brains into soup (6:1-7). In my old man's place lives the new man, the image of Christ in me.
Still with me? Good. So how did Hutchmoot 2012 change me? How did it make Thing #3 truer while making Things #1 and #2 falser? (And is "falser" even a word?)God used my sweet communion with Hutchfriends, my tummy full of Hutchfood, and the megadoses of truth in the Hutchsessions to clear up my cloudy vision a little bit. And, quite frankly, I didn't really like what I saw. I realized that my flesh was still much too alive. Rather than giving wholeheartedly and unstintingly to others, my old self wanted to measure my skills, talent, experiences, and accomplishments against theirs. It wanted to use these precious friends to my advantage. Perhaps talking with certain people would give me the appearance of being important, of being worthy of spending time with. Vicarious power and prestige? Yes, please.
I saw these natural tendencies and found them utterly disgusting.
Here's the really beautiful part: This clarity of vision was accompanied by encouraging words of truth from Scripture. Russ Ramsey gave a devotion on I Corinthians 4:3-4, reminding me that I am not my own judge, and that no other human is, either. My worth and value are judged by the One who thought I was important enough to sacrifice His Son for. Sally Lloyd-Jones followed this up with a two-word sermon that I needed badly: "Never compare."
So what do I take away from Hutchmoot? Three things, conveniently enough.
- The remembrance that God loves me and that He alone judges me. This means I don't need to try so hard to be lovable or admirable. He sees me with all my faults and still gave His Son's life for mine. This frees me up to love others in the same way rather than seeing them as competitors.
- God made me in His image, and He made me to share my creativity with others. I suffer from a sort of creative attention deficit disorder -- it is very difficult for me to finish things I have started. I realized this week that if God is going to use my work to encourage others, I need to complete what I start. I will do this not out of obligation or guilt, but because I believe God has given me resources so I will use them. This means I am going to make a concerted effort to first finish all the half-done things sitting around my mind, and then diligently let new things flow out as often -- and as completely -- as I can.
- I need to keep dying. I've been dying for two and a half decades so far, and sometimes it seems like the flesh is stronger than ever. The good news is that one day, I will finally attain death, and then I will be more alive than I ever dreamed was possible. In the meantime, I will keep seeking out other believers to encourage me along to greater depths of love and sacrifice, as I do the same for them.
And, oh, yes: "falser" is apparently a real word. In Scrabble, anyway.