It is finally that long awaited week.
That week we have waited all year for. Our "Rehearsal for Heaven," our "family reunion." The week where we are finally together again after being apart for so long. It's finally Nationals week and I'm not there with all of you. As much as I would love to hug each of you and talk to you in person, this is the next best thing :) Although I was going to make a YouTube video instead, I'm sometimes much better with words on paper :) So this is for you, dear 2016 National Bible Bee contestants...
As you come to Nationals this week I want to say a few things, but first I want to say congratulations. You all deserve a round of applause and a standing ovation. Which I’m sure you’ll get this week though at the Opening ceremony where the clapping doesn't stop. ;) I just want you all to know how very, very proud I am of each and every one of you. You have worked so hard to stand where you are standing right now. You have run so well to make it to the end of this finish line. And I’m proud of you especially because you know that your true treasure and your true reward is of much greater value than any part of this competition this week. Your treasure is already in your heart as you have poured hundreds and hundreds of verses into your soul these past few months.
As Nationals approaches, it’s just been a flood of different emotions. Not getting to join you and not getting to participate as a contestant is completely different. Being Alumni is much harder than I thought it would be! But as Nationals 2016 approaches I can’t help but remember all of the times that I would study for Bible Bee. I had five summers I got to study for Locals and four falls that I got to study for Nationals. It was intense, it was hard. There were so many times when I didn’t know if my brain could possibly handle any more memory verses or Greek words. But every year I would get to the end and it would be worth it. It would be so worth it, just knowing that in my heart was a treasure so much greater than anything else in this world.
Nationals 2015 was my greatest adventure on my Bible Bee race. And I still remember that moment when I realized that I had become Alumni of the National Bible Bee. As I stood onstage in semi-finals and they called me forward to be eliminated, I knew that this part of my race was over.
And now here we are at another Nationals. Our favorite time of the year. Standing at the beginning of this Nationals week as Alumni is to me like passing on the torch to all of you 2016 finalists. All of us alumni who aged out have that joy of getting to pass this torch on to all of you, and encourage you to run this last part of your race well.
And as an alumni, I ask of you three things as you come to Nationals tomorrow. I promise they aren’t too hard. :)
First, cherish every moment. It goes so fast. I know it can be easy to get caught up in all the nerves or stress of testing and preparing. Last minute verse reviewing and cramming on all those cross-references. But cherish even the moments during the tests when those butterflies fill your stomach. Because someday you’ll be alumni too, and someday you won’t get to take these tests ever again. So cherish it.
Second, do your best. You don’t have to make semi’s. You don’t have to make finals. You can get a 10% on your written. None of that is what matters. I just ask you to give it your best shot and leave the rest with God. He can carry it from there, trust me.
Third, I ask you to glorify God no matter what the cost or the result. It will hurt, there will be disappointment at Nationals for those who do not advance. But won’t you please glorify Him, no matter what? Look where He has brought you! Coming from a National contestant, I can tell you that none of that was me. Getting to nationals, getting to semi’s...it wasn’t me. It was God, all God, and He is worthy of that glory and that praise. And I ask you to glorify Him, even if it hurts. Glorify Him for where He has brought you. He is worthy of all praise.
Finally, 2016 National Bible Bee finalists, the world is watching you. Every time you step out onto that stage, whether it be to get your medal or to recite passages of God’s Word in Semi’s and Finals, make sure the world sees Him. The impact of what you are doing right now is beyond what you can see. These verses are going to stay with you through your adult life, and how you allow them to affect your life, can change history. Don’t let all this study and all this time go to waste. For truly, it would be a waste if you never let it change you. So let what you learned change you and do something great with it. Praise Him with your every step down that aisle to receive your medal.
And thank you all so much for being my second family. Thank you for all the laughter, the joy, the memories and the adventures. If we aren’t together again on this earth, I can’t wait to join you on Heaven’s shore to worship Him forever together.
I am so, so, so proud of you all! You can do this. Run well.
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Congratulations, National 2016 contestants.
Shine for Him.
I love you all more than you know!