Intro by: Joe Crabb, Lead Student Pastor & Written by: Lily Batey, High School Senior
Published by Woodside Bible Church, www.woodsidebible.org
Victory and Hope Redefined
For the past ten years I have had the immense privilege, blessing, and honor of being a pastor for Woodside Students. I have come to experience one of the greatest joys over this past decade and it is one no one had ever told me I would experience. The joy of living life alongside students for all seven years they are formally a part of Woodside Students.
To sit here in April 2020 and to be able to think back to June 2013, back to the first time I met many of the students who make up the Class of 2020, is truly a gift.
These students are a gift.
Being able to reflect on all that God has done in and through their lives; the mountains, the valleys, the laughter, the tears, the joyous moments of growth, and the painful moments of growth. Being able to reflect on all that God has done in and through their lives; the mountains, the valleys, the laughter, the tears, the joyous moments of growth, and the painful moments of growth.
To be able to be a part of the work that God has done and is doing to continue to shape them into men and women after His own heart has been humbling, encouraging, and truly a gift.
I trust that you reading this will be humbled, encouraged, and catch a glimpse of the good work God is doing as you read the words of one of our seniors, Lily Batey, as she shares what God has been teaching her through this unprecedented season.
These past few months have held losses and uncertainty for every one of us. Whether it’s losing people, unemployment, or canceled plans, we have all been acquainted with anxiety and despair. As a high school senior, I’ve had to mourn the loss of people, time, and the celebration of graduating with my peers. Through it all, God has taught me there is grace to process and acknowledge my feelings. There’s room to mourn as my Heavenly Father is near to the brokenhearted.
The beautiful thing as a believer, though, is that we don’t have to allow discouragement or despair to hold us bondage. On the cross, Jesus bore our grief and declared victory over it.
Surrendering everything at the feet of Jesus means dropping it at the foot of the cross. For me in this season, it was emptying my arms of the stress and burden of the unknown, the weariness, and the losses. And just as Jesus took on my sin in exchange for His life, He took my burdens in exchange for His peace and my weakness in exchange for His grace.
The reality of hardship for every one of us doesn’t compare to the undeniable truth we have in Jesus and because of that, I can give thanks and embrace this season. I get to meditate on the promises of God, in full faith that God’s goodness brings purpose to suffering. For He causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). My heart finds rest in the truth that I don’t have to navigate this season alone. For I have a shepherd who restores my soul, a comforter who will never forsake or leave me. I can daily find rest in the mercies and peace of God that is new each and every day.
And just as Jesus returned from 40 days in the wilderness empowered by the Holy Spirit, I believe that we too can walk from this more empowered by the Spirit and more in love with Jesus. Although the divine purpose behind this season may never be revealed to me, I do trust that we follow a perfect creator who forms seamless seasons. So, with the processing and mourning, I worship in faith that this season has purpose and beauty. I acknowledge my disappointments and trust God’s goodness. In the sadness, the isolation, and the uncontrollable situations, I know it to be true that God doesn’t make mistakes.
If this season emptied my arms of my own distractions, pride, and busyness, to fill me with more of Jesus, then I rejoice.
If this season stripped me of my flesh to make my heart more like the Father’s, then I embrace this phase as a time marked by purpose.
If this season revealed more of the heights and depths of Jesus’ love for His children, then these weeks of isolation were a gift.
This time, although different than what anyone expected or planned, will still be a season of victory and hope: all because of Jesus.