The summer before I left for college, I was all ready to forget moving to Kansas. The only problem: I had already paid my deposit and then some. But, let me tell you, if I had not already given up some of my hard-earned money (I worked as a Dietary Aide/Cook at a nursing home), I would have stayed in my hometown.
I could envision my life. It would be safe and easy. My hometown has a small Bible college where I could have easily gotten a degree in Ministry. I could have lived at home, ate dinner with my family each night, worked with my youth group and my youth pastor, spent weekends working at the nursing home, and had a very safe life. I would have eventually gotten the youth pastor position after graduating, either at home or somewhere incredibly close to home. (Please don’t get me wrong: I would have loved to stay near my family and eat dinner with them every night, and I miss them way too much when I’m so far away.) But I believed that God was calling me to something bigger than a life of predictability and security.
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William Shedd
Flash forward to the summer right after my sophomore year in college (or, last summer, because I’m really not that old). I had two decisions before me: go home and work or stay in Kansas and work at the headquarters for the Church of the Nazarene on NYC (Nazarene Youth Conference, the second biggest event put on by the Church of the Nazarene). I had weighed my pros and cons, but I hadn’t fully made my decision when I realized a “yes” instantly came out of my mouth when the job in Kansas was offered to me. I have done things that made me step out of my comfort zone before, but I consider this to be a huge step toward the unknown. It required courage. I had agreed before I knew where I was going to stay. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, and I had no idea what would happen.
And to be honest, the first month, I hated it. I cried a lot and missed home like crazy. But then I had a flat tire and had to figure out what to do on my own. I was slowly becoming braver. I was discovering courage within me that I never knew existed. I loved my summer. Looking back on it, I miss it. I grew and learned a lot over those summer months.
I really do owe everything to God, though, so I’m not trying to point to how brave and courageous I am, because the truth is I couldn’t have done anything that I’ve done without God.
So, here I am. Back at college and full into the swing of classes and a practicum at my church. My life is pretty predictable. I work and have classes. I don’t do much of anything on the weekends. (Though in the coming weeks, I will be flying to Atlanta for the National Youth Workers Conference, y’all!)
A little over a week ago, I had this pretty freeing thought: I’m single. It had never been a freeing thought before, because I realized that I don’t need to plan in another person into my plans for the summer. If I was dating someone, that person would be a factor (whether I’d really want to admit it or not) into what I decide to do this next summer (yes, I know summer is still a long way away). With this newfound freedom, I also discovered some fear.
I think God is calling me to step out of my comfort zone again. (Thanks, God, why are you always calling me to do that?)
Enter Youth in Mission. In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, the website explains it like this: “Youth In Mission is an 8 week summer ministry opportunity for college and university students. Youth In Mission is an opportunity for college students to support the ongoing ministry of the Church, and it provides an environment where students can gain a deeper sense of God’s work throughout the world.”
Now, I’ve heard about Youth in Mission before, but I have never felt that strong of pull toward ever doing it.
But, my recent conversation with God has gone like this (kinda, God hasn’t exactly been so audible and quotable like I’m portraying):
Me: “God, I can’t do this.”
God: “Will you trust me?”
Me: “God, I’m not called to missions.”
God: “Will you step out of your safe place and follow me?”
So, I talked to my youth pastor and his wife (they have both been pretty involved with Youth in Mission) over dinner on Monday night.
Me: “I won’t be able to afford it. I’d be giving up opportunities to do paid internships.”
Her: “It sounds like you are already trying to talk yourself out of it.”
Ouch. But true.
So I have options and I don’t know which decision specifically God is calling me, but I do know that God is calling me to be stretched and to do something that scares me. I don’t know what my future is going to look like (my immediate future or my far away future), but I am seeking God’s will in my life. I am praying that I have the courage to do whatever it is God calls me to do.