September 2012 - Vol.  62

Only Through God's Grace
by Will Cannon

I came to Detroit looking for a change of scenery – spiritually speaking. Almost all of  my Christian walk in the past few years has been spent in the university setting. I was ready to see what it might mean for me to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in a radically different kind of environment. Detroit seemed to me to be that different environment I was looking for.

Since arriving in Detroit this past summer I have been refreshed with the honesty and brokenness of the people living here. This realization came to fruition during a conversation I had with a man shortly after one of his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He told me how he had finally hit rock bottom trying to control his addiction, family, and troubled life – and now all he has to go on is God’s abundant grace.  I have been finding this story repeated over and over again in this city – where individuals, churches, and the very infrastructure of the city have crumbled, and now none of them can stand on their own without God’s grace.

The “first-world” problems which I have seen in my university student environment, and all the intellectual arguments that I have heard from students as to why God does not exist – now seem dim and distant when I stand and look at this city suffering from the deeply rooted brokenness of sin. There is a certain humility that I have found in Christians here that comes from knowing how desperately we all are in need of God’s grace and mercy no matter how prosperous our own local city or circumstances may be. People in this broken city have seen that everything humans have tried to do on their own strength leads ultimately to failure. If we can learn to put our hope in God and patiently trust in his help, then his perfect plan and provision will come through.

God has been showing me over and over again that I am incapable of doing what God wants me to do – on my own without him. The work that God gave me to do with these kids this past summer could only be accomplished by God’s grace and power – working in and through me. This is a key lesson I have learned through my involvement with Detroit Summer Outreach and Street Team this past summer. Time after time when I experienced my own plans failing, I discovered that God had a greater plan then I had foreseen.

I am very thankful for receiving this lesson from God, because I was so used to relying on myself for getting good at “doing” school for the past sixteen-or-so years. Working with these high school kids was unlike any exam I had to take in the past or any project that was assigned to me. The work God was calling me to do in Detroit required me to fall back entirely on God’s plan and grace – only in that way could I hope to show Christ to these kids. Glory be to God that he can use an ordinary guy like myself to have some impact with these kids’ lives!

[Will Cannon is a musician, engineer, disciple, and son. He is on staff for the University Christian Outreach (UCO) mission team in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, and is an affiliate with the Servants of the Word learning what it means to be a shepard and servant in the body of Christ.]

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