My First Response to Asbury : Send Them Away

As I reflect on the past week in my sleepy town of Wilmore, Ky., I am convicted of my selfish, jealous heart.  

If I’m being brutally honest, the never-ending stream of cars piling into Wilmore, the filled parking lots, the masses of people, and the overwhelming media covering this “Asbury Awakening” have made me bitter. I have desired for people to leave, stop talking about it, stop sharing, and let me have my town back.  

Someone said this morning, “If you’re feeling angry about the crowd here in Wilmore, you’re in good company because that is exactly how the disciples felt.”  

Taking them along, [Jesus] slipped quietly into a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside to lodge and get provisions, for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat” (Luke 9:10-13, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition).  

This morning, as I sat and let the Lord do a work in my heart, he exposed the bitterness that has crept in. Praise God I do not get to say who enters the kingdom, praise God I am not the gatekeeper of heaven, and praise God I’m not in control, because this week has shown me I’d be pretty bad at it. I would roll my eyes, judge people in my head, and selfishly want Jesus all to myself.  

I have never felt more like a jealous Simon Peter as I do now, and as much sympathy that I now have for the crowds, I have even more praise for the grace of God. When I ask for the crowds to go away, he tells me to feed them. When I’m annoyed, he tells me to serve. He welcomes the sinners, and he welcomes his weary and skeptical followers . . . like me.  

What an honor to live in Wilmore, what a privilege to give up my parking space for those being saved from sin, what a grace to pray alongside the students and leaders of Asbury and to encourage and strengthen them through my prayer.  

To my fellow students I would say, If you’re feeling bitter, angry, annoyed, or disrupted by this, you’re not alone. Jesus is so sweet, and I am so in need of him. I thank the Lord for his saving grace and for his unending forgiveness and welcoming arm to the sinner and the skeptic. 

Hannah Garnett

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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