It wasn’t the first time I’d sat on my bed at two in the morning, photographs and books and albums strewn across the surface of the covers. I’d packed up three boxes of books until I’d run out of packing tape, emptied an entire dresser full of coin collections, book marks, electronics (chords and instructions and warranties and such), and at least a decades’ worth of birthday cards, Christmas cards, and letters…so many letters.
I was still running on the emotional energy leftover from several hours before, at Camp BaYouCa. I had spoken to the up and coming laborers (counselors, leaders, and staff) on the subject of “Managing Your Time At Camp.”
Preparing for it was both fun and nerve-racking. What if I said something contrary to God’s Word? What if I unintentionally made one of the listeners stumble or fall in some way? What if, what if, what if?
In the hours leading up to physically going to BaYouCa, I realized a pattern in my behavior lately: I was doing a lot of things that I thought were good and God-pleasing, and yet I had failed to really stop and ask God what He wanted to do in each of them. Of course I was nervous. Of course I was bogged down by so much insecurity. I was trying to do this by myself.
This led me to prayerfully re-evaluate how I was approaching this thing at BYC…Is this about my being eloquent or smart-sounding? Or is it about loving, serving, ministering to, encouraging, and challenging these laborers that God has purposed to be at camp this summer?
God blessed the time. What exactly each counselor and co. gained from it, I do not know, but I do know that I was able to talk to a lot of the counselors, both ones with whom I was close, and those who were new to me. I left feeling encouraged, refreshed, and challenged. I felt like I’d obeyed and represented and reflected God to the best of my ability.
And yet, several hours later, back in my room, I was expending as much of my leftover nerves into packing things up and organizing my room and keeping my thoughts as busy as possible. Speaking about God in that form had propelled me into thoughts of the future, of my desire to minister to women, write women’s Bible studies, disciple, love, change the world and turn it back to God…And this led me to face the lack of confidence I had in myself, in God’s desire and ability to use me in any capacity He decided, in my ability as a writer, or in His sovereignty and faithfulness.
I didn’t want to think. So I organized stuff.
I sorted through papers leftover from my freshman year at Pratt. Some of them were unexplored story ideas. Others were paper-clipped chapters with fully fleshed-out scenes and characters. I began to think about writing, and whether or not God is going to use it in my future, or if He has something different in mind.
What if You want me to not be a writer? What if You want me to sacrifice being a writer to focus on something else? Like discipling and loving and serving my husband and children? Could I do both? What if nothing works out?
Light flashed through my room in that moment and I froze. A clap of lightning made me jump. The street light went out. The box fan in my window stopped moving. My lamp shut off and my room became completely dark and silent.
I am convinced that you are no less a grown up if you are still afraid of the dark. Or maybe I just want to think that so I don’t feel so childish when things like this happen.
Another blinding blast of light threw the shadows into a flurry, and the heart-shattering sound of the sky being torn apart rushed in to fill the silence. I was terrified.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10, ESV)
The lights came back on, the lightning flashed and clapped once again, and the rolling thunder followed as a tremor beneath me. The power went out once more within a handful of seconds, just in case I didn’t get the message the first time.
Even when I do not “include” God in the decisions I’m making in order to please Him, He is always loudly and obviously proclaiming to me that He is the One who is in control, and I am not.
I have the power to strike you, to smite you with My lightning, to roar in your ears with My thunder until you are deaf to everything else but darkness. I cause calamity and destroy cities. I formed the foundations of the earth and My will for this world and every other will not be thwarted…But I love you, and will not hurt you. I am not against you, and you are on the side of the power I have willingly shown you.
The following morning, when the storm was over and the sun was shining, I would take a hike of sorts to Angell’s Acres (my church’s property) to help mow the lawn, and during that hike I would boldly and emotionally and desperately cry out to my God concerning my anxieties about the future, about raising a family in this world, about my fear of my own weaknesses, particularly my selfishness and self-focus. I would sob and hurt and trust Him. And I would know that He is God.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)