I never did any big, extravagant thing this summer.
I didn’t go on a missions trip.
I didn’t work at any camp.
I just came home and worked all summer.
Not exactly what I had summer of 2017 planned out to be, but it was exactly what God had planned.
Last summer, I applied to work at the Wilds Christian Camp for this summer. I was accepted! I was going to be a waitress! But, for the few weeks before I received my acceptance letter, something kept pressing on my mind. I felt the Lord was telling me to wait on working anywhere else this summer and to go home.
“But Lord, I want to serve you there! I can make such a difference working at camp!”
“God, please. I don’t think you understand. (HA!) I could help reach out to souls who are lost. I could counsel kids who need help. Come on, Lord, I will have such a great ministry for you there!”
I did not understand why He would tell me no to working at a Christian camp. I could have honored Him and served Him so much there.
See, working at the Wilds is something I have planned to do for years. I planned to work there as soon as I graduated. The Wilds is a place that I hold very near and dear to my heart. Camp helped me so much in my walk for Christ, and I wanted to help other kids in their walks!
So, you can imagine my surprise and confusion when I felt God was telling me no. But, I followed Him. I sent back the acceptance letter with a reply stating that I could not work there anymore, and I cried right there in the post office as I placed the letter in the dropbox.
Fast forward a few months later and I was now home for the summer working at a cabinet factory during the week and an amusement park during the weekends. It hurt to see pictures and posts from all of my other friends who were working at different camps. I felt a bit angry and jealous at times. I did not understand why God brought me home when I could be doing such a work for Him somewhere else.
But, that was my mistake. I thought I had to go somewhere else to make a difference. But, no. God brought a difference back home, and it hit closer to home than I thought.
Flashback again to school–God had been working on my heart about two other issues, as well.
I have always grown up being pretty idle within the church setting. I grew up going to churches that were always less than 100 people. Lets just say Baptist churches are not quite common in rural, southern Indiana. I always assumed that since I went to a small church, they did not need much help. The churches had plenty of adults that could do the work, right?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always loved going to church! I love having relationships with the people at church, but I never really got involved in things. I helped out here and there but was never really happy to do it.
God laid on my heart to be more of a help this summer. I knew that I should be more involved. No longer did I want to just sit back and watch other people do the work. I wanted to help be a leader.
I started small by just joining the choir. Believe me, that was a big enough step! After singing in the choir for a few weeks, I wanted to do something else, so I started volunteering in the nursery. Boy, did God teach me some things in there! I also did a short devotional at a ladies luncheon, which is something I have never done before! I love writing so much that I could write for hours; however, giving speeches has never been my cup of tea. Man, God really pushed me out of my comfort zone there.
As I stated, there were two lessons I felt God was teaching me. The first was about being idle and the second was about being completely sold out for Him.
As I said before, I have always grown up in a smaller church setting. The majority of the community I live in is predominantly Catholic, so finding a good, solid church has been hard. We currently have to drive 40 minutes (about 30 miles) to church every week.
I do not want to criticize the other churches I grew up in, but I do not believe that either of those churches were as sold out for Christ as the one I attend now. In all of my years attending the two other churches, I had never seen as many souls saved as I did at my church now in just one summer.
To me, I almost thought it was impossible to do a work around this area.
“Everyone is Catholic and stubborn and drunks. They don’t care about the Gospel.”
Man, did God really prove me wrong on that thought.
I saw a man saved from his past history of drugs, depression, and alcohol.
I saw several men saved while spending their time in jail.
I saw men saved who were covered in tatoos from head to foot.
I saw two little boys get saved after giving their hearts to Christ at camp.
I saw an eighty-eight year old man accept Christ as Savior after 30+ years of his son witnessing to him.
I saw a small little teen girl, who has already been through a lot in her few years, accept Christ as her Savior, giving it all to Him.
These are just a few examples. This summer, the number of individuals who gave their life to Christ through our church extended to double digits! ONE summer. Just a few months, really! That is incredible.
Many of those people who were saved are now following a discipleship program. Many still attend our church. Our small, little country church is almost outgrowing our pews and parking lot!
God needed to show me that no matter who you are, where you live, what you have done, and how old you are–He can still use you. He still loves you. He never gives up on us.
A church that is completely sold out for Christ, even a small, country church in Indiana, who serves the Lord with all their might, God ultimately blesses. God blessed my church this summer. But that still is not all…
The lesson that I felt God was teaching me this summer was to get out of my comfort zone and to understand how Mighty He is.
Giving a speech to about fifteen ladies may not seem like a big deal to you. “Hey, at least is wasn’t a huge crowd, ya know?”
Maybe watching just three kids in the nursery does not sound too hard for you. “Come on, that is easy to handle!”
Or maybe just standing up in a small choir singing to a church of about fifty people doesn’t sound too challenging to you, but for me, all of those events pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me realize what truly worshipping Jesus was about.
Yes, those were very great lessons that God taught me. However, it actually was not until my very last Sunday at home that I finally realized why exactly God decided to bring me back home instead of to let me work at a camp.
On Sunday, August 20, 2017, in my small little country church, I saw my best friend of seven years accept Christ as her Savior. If I had decided to follow my own will and work at some camp or some ministry place other than work at home, I may not have seen this day. I may not have seen my answer to prayer come true. I may not have seen her broken down and weak, only to become strong in the Lord.
To see my best friend, a girl who grew up in a Catholic community, a girl I have prayed for many years, a girl who has only visited my church a few times, accept Christ as her Savior, made it all worth coming home.
I believe I would have seen many other souls saved had I worked at a camp.
I could have gone to another country and shared the Gospel with someone who has never even heard it before.
But God brought me home to teach me an even greater lesson of getting out of my comfort zone.
Because see, that’s just it. Home is our comfort zone, is it not? We desire to reach the world so much that we forget about the souls we leave behind at home. We put our family and our friends on the back burner because we do not want to upset them or have them leave us or be ridiculed by them.
Reading over that, it sounds ridiculous, right? The people we care about the most are the ones we neglect? How is that?
But for some reason, it is absolutely true.
God wants me to be completely sold out for Him, and if I truly love my family and friends like I say that I do, wouldn’t I want them to be sold out for Him, as well?
Sometimes God plants us where we do not want to be planted. Sometimes we never truly understand why God puts us in a certain place or certain situation. I was fortunate enough to find out why God brought me back to good ole’ southern Indiana, even if I had to wait until the very last week here.
God makes no mistakes. It was not a mistake for me to come home like I thought it was. I came to just the right place at just the right time to do exactly what God wanted me to do. This summer I learned that it is not my will that is best, it is God’s.
“Not my will, but thine be done.”
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)