Saturday, August 11, 2007


One of the testimonies a high school camper gave the last night was about identity. He’d entered high school expecting to be known as the guy who plays football. But he didn’t get to play. So he switched to being the chem. kid, “chemistry whiz.” But he barely passed chemistry. And finally it was back to football. Only he got injured.

Finally, he said, he figured out that God didn’t want him to have an ego identity. God wants us to be His servants. And God should be known through us.

When I was in junior high and high school, I did Awana Bible Quizzing. And that was sort of my identity. If you wanted to hear me talk, ask with interest about quiz, and off I’d go. My fellow quizzers could talk over the same competitions for hours, time and time again. The days on which we competed were some of the best – and most vividly remembered – of my life.

It all started because all my friends were quizzing. So I joined the team, practiced, and our team screamed with excitement because we won. We were third and fourth graders, so I mean screamed. That became a sort of tradition. Each year as they announced places, our teams would squeeze each others’ hands and wait, saving up for the scream. Six years in a row, that is what happened to my team. The eighth grade year there was a three-way tie, and after several tie-breaker questions and only one team eliminated, we decided to share first place.

And then it happened. The next year my team lost. Well, we didn’t lose; we got third place. But to me anything except first place was an inky chasm that engulfed the miserable, bitter “honorable mentions.” I think I had a problem.

Fortunately the next year the best part of the first place team that beat us from the year before joined up with our team, and we soared to amazing, unexpected heights. Our coach was accused of having a ringer on her team, to which she replied, “I have four ringers.” (And four was a full team.)

During that year and the next, once again winning, I was nevertheless learning a lot about teamwork, prayer, humility. For one thing, I realized that in the higher rounds of the national competition, it wasn’t necessarily the team that buzzed in first or who knew all the answers that won. Something else had to be at work, and I realized it was God.

Prayer was the answer. But the prayers couldn’t be of the sort that demanded a win. The prayers my team ended up praying were for spiritual growth, God’s glory, His favor, for lasting friendships, for the Word of God to be proclaimed.

Finally my senior year came, and it was bittersweet knowing that after that I would graduate, and never do quizzing again. But priorities were different as a senior, and while I really wanted to do well and invest in Bible quiz, I couldn’t quite study so much as I had. I wanted so much to go out on top, and feared that people would think that I’d slacked off. So the pride and vanity were still there.

That spring was a spring filled with prayer and surrender. By the day of the quiz, I had such freedom knowing that God’s will would be done, and I could rejoice in it. And while everything went well, my team took second and a friend’s team took first. That team was so shocked and delighted, and deserving, that I couldn’t help but be so happy for them. And I smiled all day.

My last year as a camper, the big brother of the guy who gave the testimony above signed my shirt, addressing it to “Quizmaster,” but that’s not who I am. My identity isn’t Lisa, blogger or Lisa, quizzer or Lisa, anything else. Hopefully people see me and say God is Lord, or God is good, or God is able.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice – holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

But I am still a quizzer. At camp there is a song, No Mountain High Enough, which is famous for one line about strength at which everyone poses to show off their muscles. The camp teacher known as Russell the Muscle because of this song got up after we sang it and began, “I have a quiz question.” At which point I became tense, ready to spring. His question was from what passage of Scripture the song was taken (the point is that nothing is big, strong, dark, etc. enough to keep me from God). The correct answer was also one of the memory verses from junior high that week, so I expected my hand, which shot up, to be joined by a myriad of others. It wasn’t. All alone my hand sat, and of course I knew the answer, but I didn’t want him to call on me. Finally it all came out that I was a counselor, and the answer was dragged from a little junior high camper instead.

I just can’t help it. I’d have had to sit on my hands to keep from participating. = )

To God be all glory.

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