21 summer interns arrived in Nashville on Friday, June 9th. Since that time, they’ve been immersed in the study of God’s Word and challenged to think about how the Scriptures should be lived out. This year’s theme is HUMBLE and the verses we focus on come from Deuteronomy 8:
This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. 3 He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
The wilderness journey was not easy for the Israelites. But in our modern age, it is easy to soften the blow of a wilderness-like mission trip with all the finest gears and gadgets from REI, a well-prepared shopping list, and a cell phone which lets you experience the world at your fingertips, at any hour of the day. But, as the interns are learning from Deuteronomy, humility is evidenced in one’s response to a challenging situation. That means you cannot claim humility while never actually enduring a test. Trials are all around, and the Lord is even involved in them (He humbled you by letting you hunger), while at the same time taking care of us (feeding you with manna), but in ways we aren’t used to (with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted). The goal is to help us understand that we need the things of this world far less, and His Word far more--one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
To accompany this humble theme, the interns have engaged in a variety of rigorous activities. When their journey began, they were handed an outfit that they did not choose. Then you might find them walking to the soccer pitch over a mile away, or deciding the best way to purchase dinner at a food court with only one $20 bill to use between them (20 in all). Mealtimes are not announced, nor is the schedule of the day. Dinner may be announced with instructions that you are cooking, and only be supplied random ingredients. Worship time could start at 5pm or 3am. And the clothes, which you did not choose, you still have to wear, whether you’re gardening or working with kids or attending a play. They are getting a heaping portion of one thing in particular: God’s Word—in order to understand that this is how one is sustained. This is truly the bread of life.
How are they responding to all of this? Read on.
[Full journal entries available here. This is just a sampling.]
How has internship impacted your life in Christ so far?
I have experienced Christ in ways that I could have never imagined on this internship. In every moment when we’re pushed to overcome obstacles, God’s love overwhelms me and continues to ignite the desire within me to know him more. This internship encourages me to step deeper and deeper into Christ and his word. (Tuesday Jordan, 20, Slidell, LA)
The other day, we hand-washed our laundry. It took about two hours to wash the clothes and then hang them up on a line and then an entire day for them to dry. This is a daily reality for people which is crazy to think about. It made me recognize that I am privileged in more ways than I even realize. (Logan Hayes, 21, Crawfordsville, IN)
Man…I honestly don’t know where to start about Internship! It’s been challenging and encouraging, sometimes frustrating and definitely humbling, and I can honestly say I’ve absolutely loved all of it (even the difficult times). Today is Day 6, and my body might feel exhausted at points, but my spirit is awake and eager to learn more! We spend hours learning the Word and worshipping the Lord and start our days in fervent prayer and surrender, and we’ve been pushed out of our comfort zones for sure, which I think is definitely a necessity when it comes to learning the Word of God and serving the Lord and following His call. What fun would it be if I was comfortable the entire time? (Emily Marotta, 18 Nashville, TN)
What is one thing you won’t forget?
Being awoken in the middle of the night to worship. I didn’t hear one complaint, one negative thing leave any of the other interns’ mouths. We immediately began to sing songs, lift our hands to him, and just be in the same joy together at 4 am. We all shared scripture with each other, and prayed. We prayed so much, and through it all we found our strength in him. I won’t forget the way we found our strength in the Lord in that moment. (Sara Giguere, 18, Paragould, AR)
On our second day the gravity of lacking basic comforts started to hit me. We are going to be living out of this small paper bag, wearing clothes that are foreign and uncomfortable to us, and not eating much food. We woke up early to John Nyago [from Uganda] singing, and I had this moment with the Lord where my heart felt so much compassion and respect for those whose lives aren’t riddled with the possessions and comforts we have. Our stuff forms this security net around us that draws us away from having to rely on the Lord. But when that net is taken away, we will sink or swim in our decision to trust the Lord to provide for us, and to be content with what he gives. It takes so much faith and strength, and it helped me to see His word in a new way. (Josie Putnam, 25, Seattle, WA)
What is something the Lord is teaching you?
Something? More like everything He is teaching me. He is teaching me to trust him, to live in the moment, and to hear His word before applying it to my life. Luke 2 tells us that Jesus was a good student; listening, asking questions, and answering with understanding. During Bible study, when my mind starts to wander, I think back to this story. That I need to understand what He is saying first and when obstacles approach me in life, His words will be flowing through my mind, guiding me to make the decision based on the path that He has set before me. (Shay Lucas, 20, Greencastle, IN)
Gregg [Garner] taught us Luke 2 and showed us some characteristics of Jesus’ time as being a student. Jesus was a good listener, asking questions, and showed understanding in his responses. The Lord is teaching me to be confident in my position as a student and walk in the freedom that comes with a learning curve. He is telling me to be free in finding my voice that He has given me. (Darbie Guess, 21, Memphis, TN)
We all go through tests on a daily basis. God is watching our response. For the interns, the tests are simulated, and we get to walk them through it. For the rest of us, it’s a voluntary submission. What tests are you going through today, and what do they expose in you?
Hopefully, the interns’ lessons are a reminder to all of us of the long way that God has led us, testing us to see what was in us, particularly when the roads took unexpected turns. As many of the interns reflect, God is a good father who wants us to live and increase (Deut. 8:1), but to do so well—with his Word filling our lives more than any satiation the world has to offer.
We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Just a note: it hasn’t even been a full week.