This week I get the privilege of working at InterVarsity’s Urbana Missions convention- an international gathering of students who are asking- “what in the heck does God want me to do with my life?” You can check it out at www.urbana09.org and actually watch to the sessions online!
This is my fourth time working at/attending Urbana. The first time I attended the conference in 2000, I had such an intense experience with Jesus that after listening to a talk about the servant leadership of Jesus, I walked out of the auditorium in a daze on the cold, snowy night towards the busses waiting to take people back to the dorms. I saw a guy smoking a cigarette and though I’ve never been a smoker, all I could think was “whoa, Jesus just blew my mind- I think I need a cigarette.” After smoking about 1/2 of it and chatting with the guy about how Jesus was blowing our minds and reshaping the ways we thought about ourselves, this world and the people in our lives, I looked at the camel menthol I had half smoked (quintessential college student cigarette right?!) and thought- “gross! why am I doing this?!” and promptly stubbed it out, hiking through the snowy night to the dorm room where I was staying.
Though I haven’t smoked any cigarettes at subsequent Urbana conferences (I promise :), Jesus continues to blow my mind. This is a place where I am reminded of God’s love for students, his desire to use them to teach and show the world of the priorities of Christ- to demonstrate justice to the poor, to share about the hope and life found in Jesus, to give our priorities and money to the subversive love and lifestyle that Jesus followers are meant to lead. And I’m reminded that I’m meant to lead this life as well- to care about the poor in my city, to talk about the healing love of Christ I’ve experienced, the ways that I need to change my priorities about how I use my money and time so that it doesn’t revolve around making myself more comfortable, successful or beautiful or any number of things I’m tempted to do. The things in my life that have gotten out of whack to care only about myself are shifted back into place by Jesus, the chiropractor and healer of souls.
If you do check out the website, listen to Shane Claiborne and Oscar Muriu’s session Dec. 29th- on the webcast. Actually, if you don’t want your life to change, to be challenged to live a more compassionate, simple, generous life- don’t listen to it. It will mess with you in a way that only Jesus can.