Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. This is really hard to wrap my head around, considering I consider most of my closest friends as brothers and sisters……as family.
This past year has been a roller coaster. There have been so many ups and downs that it would take me an entire book to describe it all. My year started on May 26, 2013. I rolled into Heartland Presbyterian Summer Camp (late, I might add) and started staff training. 2 weeks of getting to know and interact with the people who I would be spending my entire summer around. The first week I was there, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was there. I had no idea how God was going to use me the summer, I was so vastly behind the ball when it came to the spirituality of the group (at least I figured). I ended up surviving those 2 weeks of staff training and doing just fine at it. Then I got my first group of campers: 4th through 6th graders. I was on top of the world. I did everything I could to get them through the week. The rest of June, I did the same thing. I went home for the 4th of July and was all set to come back to continue doing the same thing that I was doing before I left. I was awakened out of the idea when the camp director called me and told me that I would be on kitchen duty for the rest of the summer. I was shocked and hurt. I felt betrayed. I was not looking forward to going back to the camp to just work in the kitchen. I trusted that God had put me where He wanted me for the summer, so I went back and served in the kitchen, after all I did sign a contract. The summer ended on a better note for me that it looked like it would in the middle.
The start of the school year was around the corner. I was back at Sterling, my college, early to help out with orientation. I had several roles that I filled throughout the next couple of weeks. I made it my goal to talk to as many new faces that I could those 2 weeks, I accomplished that fairly well. My track and cross country coach surprised me after the first week by taking me to the Athletic Leadership retreat the first full weekend I was there. “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “I’m only a sophomore, there’s no way I can lead this team this year.” I went and learned how much Jack, my coach, really trusted me. Once again, I had to trust God; I didn’t know why Jack had picked me to be a leader, but it had to be for a good reason.
The next event that happened was our annual Missions Chapel. That is the chapel service at my school that is comprised of all the last summer’s mission teams reporting back to the school and community. Last year I had attempted to go to East Asia on mission, but for financial reasons (and God’s timing) it was unable to go. I looked at all the trips that we were being offered, and the one that I finally settled on was Guatemala. It helped that it was about $1,000 cheaper than the other trips. I was ecstatic! I was going to actually go out of country this year – now all I had to do was raise $2,000! We had a couple meetings over the course of the rest of the semester. I was going to have to trust God again to get me all the fundraising that I needed.
About three things really hit me next. I had reapplied to the summer camp that I worked at last summer, thinking I have a pretty good chance of getting rehired because I had already worked there. My heart was broken when I finally heard back from the camp director, and he told me that I was not going to be hired back. I was completely convinced that I would be able to bounce from school to the camp and back over the entire time that I was in school. I had a hard time accepting that I was actually going to have to find a summer job again… The fall musical was taking place at about the same time. At the end of rehearsal, we have a week where everything is completely focused on the show, class, eating, and sleeping. I was stressed more than I have ever been before. It was the worst I had ever felt. I think I spent at least 42 hours in the theater that week. It was not fun trying to get all of my homework done and memorize my songs and lines that week… At the end of cross country season, my foot had begun to act up once again. For those of you who don’t know, I am a cross country runner. Since I have really high arches, I tend to put a lot more pressure on the balls of my feet when I run than I should ever even think about. It was so painful to just jog the conference meet. I ended up limping the last mile and a half, doing everything I could just to get through the line. That was not a fun encounter with my last meet of the season. I felt as if my life were slightly falling apart, nothing seemed to be going extremely well. I was hurting, and disappointed. I was at my lowest point of the year. I seriously considered ending my collegiate running career after cross country conference. I had to trust God by giving Him my stress. I had to trust God by taking a step back and realizing that He had a different plan for me this summer than working at a summer camp. I had to trust God with my running, because I sure as heck would have quit if I hadn’t felt Him telling me not to.
Christmas break went perfectly fine until I tried to get back to school. I had to be back the day after all the big winter storms hit. I was all set to ride a greyhound bus into Columbia, Missouri to get a ride back with my roommate, but the weather forced all public transportation in Missouri to be stopped. My roommate told me that he would not wait for me. As a result, I tried the train. That was an adventure, to say the least. I was all set to get back. My train was scheduled to leave at about 4 pm. It got delayed until about 6 pm. I left St. Louis just fine. I had a transfer in Kansas City to catch that was supposed to leave at 10 pm. When I got to the station, they told us that the train was not going to leave until the next day since we were already delayed by 2 hours. One of my mom’s cousins lived about 30 minutes away, so she came and got me and I spent the night at her house. The next day, my mom bought me a greyhound ticket. When I got to the check-in desk, the lady there told me that everything going the way that I was, was canceled due to weather. So, I called my mom’s cousin and had her come pick me back up. I finally got back on the train that I was originally supposed to, left, and safely arrived back at school. I once again had to trust that God had my best interests at heart and that I needed to depend on Him for everything, not just my everyday things.
Everything was going pretty good until I got to outdoor track and raced a 10k for my first race of the season. After it, I couldn’t move my legs at all without my shins being on fire. I had never felt this before! It was a new sensation and I did not like it!! I had heard a couple of my teammates complaining about their shins hurting, but now I realize that they were just speaking the truth, not complaining at all – they really, really, really hurt!!! I ended up being out for the next 3 weeks with absolutely no running of any kind. The week after, I was only running small amounts trying to get myself ready to run at outdoor conference. In the midst of that, I had to worry about our annual Choir tour that we have every year. I was not prepared at all the way I needed to be. I ended up feeling isolated throughout most of the trip. I just felt as if I didn’t completely fit in. It was not necessarily a fun week. For that month, I ended up having to trust God to help me find a place where I fit in, a place where I could be used for His purposes.
A couple weeks after we got back, my missions team took turns and gave our testimonies to the rest of the team. Mine was really hard to give; I haven’t really told anybody else what my entire story entailed before. I was convinced that God was going to use my story in one way or another, but I had no idea how. My birthday was at the end of the month, and for it, my parents gave me a $1,000 dollar check and they told me that I needed to use it to pay off the rest of my debt to Guatemala!! This was not what I was expecting at all. I was floored by how God was able to use that to reassure that I could continue to trust Him. It was one of those things that almost never happens except in movies.
We had a 4 day weekend for Easter Break. One day all of a sudden, I felt the need to go home for Easter. I didn’t know why, I just knew I had to. So, I obeyed the impulse and went home. At home, God revealed Himself to me as clearly as I have ever heard, seen, or thought of Him. The Monday I was supposed to go back, I was going to get my license in the morning and spend some time with my dog before I had to go back. It was a day to trust God. I had lost my license. Coming back from my first Thanksgiving Break of college, I was caught for speeding. I had not thought anything of it when I got caught, except “crap, my parents are going to kill me when they see their insurance bill…” Well, last summer my parents moved up to St. Louis for the 2nd time in my lifetime. When I went home over the 4th of July weekend, I realized that I should probably switch my license over to a Missouri one (my previous one was an Arkansas license). When I went to the DMV, they told me that because I still had a minor’s license when I got caught, that I would have to spend six months with a permit before they would allow me to get a regular license again. I was devastated. Anyway, back to the present day. I had looked up the city bus route and found the buses that I needed to take. My plan was to leave at 8:00 in the morning and be back at the house at 10:00. I missed the 8:00 bus, so I went back to the house and looked up the next time a bus was going to swing by that particular stop, it was 9:00! I looked down at my watch and saw that it was 8:45! I quickly put my computer down and ran back out to the bus stop. I caught the next bus, thankfully. I completed my transfer successfully, and made it to the DMV. When I got to the counter, I explained my situation to the lady there (it was the same one who I had talked to over the summer), and she said that I needed proof of address. I didn’t have proof of address with me, so I got really frustrated. I tried everything I could think of to show her that I lived where my parents did. I almost gave up when I realized that I had seen a tab on my college’s website for residence information. I checked the tab and I when I saw that the college had my mailing address on their website I jumped for joy and went back and showed her. She accepted it and I got my license!!!! I am now a fully legal driver. I had to take the same route back that I did to get out there, so I got on the bus and was at the spot of my transfer. The first bus that came said that it was out of service and going to the garage. The second one did as well, and the third one. The unfortunate part was, since I missed my first bus, I was on a time crunch. They finally got the second bus up and working, so I hopped on it and went back to the house. When I was ready to leave (I had to take a bus to the train station and the train back to school), I got out the bus stop 10 minutes before the bus was supposed to leave. My train left at 4, so my goal was to be at the station at 3:30 to give me 30 minutes to make sure I wouldn’t miss it or anything. The bus route was supposed to take about an hour and the closest one to my house was supposed to leave from the stop at 2:30ish, so that worked out really well for me. Well, I ended up waiting until 2:45 because the bus was late. I started freaking out thinking that I was going to miss my train, all because a stupid bus was late!!!!! Through a miracle of God, the bus made almost no stops and made it up town in about 45 minutes!!!! As I was sitting on the train waiting for it to leave, I got a call from Six Flags (I had interviewed with them on Saturday, it was Monday). I was offered a job for the summer!!!!!! It was an easy answer to give: Yes!! I called my mom immediately and told her that I would most definitely be staying at home over the summer because I would be working at Six Flags!!
Throughout this year I have had to learn the hard lesson of trusting God. It is still a struggle to put my full trust in Him because I can’t physically see Him, but with the way that He has revealed Himself to me all year, I know in my heart that he is real and is guiding my every step.
Prayer: Pray that your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would learn the very valuable lesson of trusting in God in all circumstances. Pray that no matter what, they would be able to see God in the little things of life. Pray that those who do not believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life will be able to find God in the beauty of this world.