On the last post we covered that God has been teaching me a lot! Despite my insubordination to His will at times, He chose to work in and through me this summer. Going to camp was something that I did not want to do at first: partly due to my arrogance in thinking that I had my summer figured out and that I knew the will of God.
So I would just like to mention the highlight of my summer.
Much of the highlights of the summer are centered around the privilege I received of speaking every week. During weeks 1,2,4, and 6 I got to speak on sin on Monday nights. With very little confidence in my ability to speak well, I boldly unpacked Ephesians 2:1-3. I spoke on the sin that makes us natural haters of God. That by nature (the Greek word for ‘birth’) we deserve eternal separation from the Trinity. This sin belittles and mocks the God of the universe and we are all guilty. I always ended the message, however, with the first two words of verse 4. They are But God. I did not want to end the message by telling the campers that they all sucked and there was nothing they could do about it. I followed the text and ended the message with hope. I told them that while we were by nature sinners, God did something. That God did not leave us separated, He did something. And that is why it is the good news.
There were several weeks where I thought that I totally shot over the kids’ heads (mostly the youngest group). In fact, a friend of mine visited to hear me speak (surprise) and said exactly what I was thinking. My friend mentioned that I was too advanced and the kids probably did not get it. I agreed and disagreed with my friend. I agreed that I taught over the kids’ heads but then again I kept hearing comments from other counselors that their kids and for devos that night, they had a real discussion on sin. So here is what I think happened: I think the counselors saved my butt! It seems that the counselors engaged their kids to interact with a message that was difficult to grasp. So thank you counselors!
So I spoke and spoke, each time trying to improve on the last. Week after week, I was frustrated because I wanted so badly to talk about Jesus. Finally, week 7, the program director asked me to speak on Jesus. At first I denied it (there seems to be some pattern) but a couple days later I felt led to teach on Jesus anyways. So I asked the program director and out of sheer grace, she said yes.
Then I started preparing. I begged God to move. I already knew the text I was going to use: Ephesians 2:1-9. My desire was simply to walk through the passage and show the campers (praise God they were the older ones) the hope that they have been called to. I taught for 40 minutes. Yup it was long. However, I think the campers were in it the whole time. I finally was able to unpack the mercy of God despite our wickedness, and then the cross of Christ, and finally the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Let me tell you, God moved. At least He moved in me!
As soon as I finished teaching, this time on Tuesday, I dismissed the 190 campers to think about what they had just heard. When I walked off stage, this is the most powerful thing that has happened to me in a long time, a male camper pulled me aside and told me “you totally changed the way I view God. Now I see Him as merciful and good. Thank you.” I was speechless. I had no idea how to respond.
The next day, I went out with my boss to get some sweet tea (I love that stuff). Before the conversation really took off, she told me that I should consider going into a preaching ministry. That it is clear that God has placed a call on my life to teach and preach the word. That was huge for me. I had never before had the gift of teaching been affirmed (mostly because I had not taught anywhere else). God was moving.
I begged God at the beginning of the summer to challenge me and He certainly did! As a nervous, sinful, unqualified, 20 year old, untrained, college student walked on stage He moved. I believe He taught me more this summer about the difficulty in teaching and the great honor it is to teach and preach God’s word.
It is extremely difficult for me to convey to you the importance of this summer for me. For the first time, I felt that it was actually possible for me to live up to the calling to be a herald of God’s word. Each time before week 7, whenever I taught it kind of tanked. I was super discouraged and wondering why God would put this intense passion in my soul to do something that I sucked at. One thing this summer accomplished was to see God move in me to show me that He actually can work through me to accomplish what He called me to.
All I can say is praise God. Thank you for praying as you have received my updates. Thank you for participating with me in something I found to be utterly terrifying. And Father, thank you for moving despite myself.