I was so busy yesterday, that I forgot it was a special anniversary—three years to the day I surrendered my future vocation to the Lord. It wasn’t an easy journey to that point, I can tell you that; and the journey since has been rewarding.
My junior year of high school (11th grade), I was fully immersed in church life. I ushered, led worship team, was fully involved in the youth group, volunteered for all kinds of things, led Sunday School…you name it, I did it! I struggled a lot with trying to fit in with my friends, as all teens do. There weren’t many strong Christian influences around me (looking back at high school, I can think of 4-6 other strong followers of Christ that I graduated with out of 216?). I guess the difference was I had strong convictions should I do something “wrong.” So I didn’t do much partying or anything, just because I knew it was wrong.
Winter rolled around, and I felt the Lord trying to tell me something. I was planning colleges and my future, and was decided on a major but worried about finding a college I could afford for journalism. My youth pastor was the first to say something that really made me think. He told me that I shouldn’t go far for college, because he needed me to work with the youth and “take over” after I graduate. I laughed at the thought of “taking over” a youth group; it seemed outright ridiculous to me…but I started to think about it. I felt like the Lord was trying to tell me something, but I ignored it because I already had my life figured out (I’m a planner, as well as stubborn). One by one people in the church started coming up to me, telling me about the spectacular job I was doing working with the youth, how I was a light in the church, how I needed to continue working with teenagers and was gifted, and blah, blah, blah! Each time I would thank them and start to think about what they were saying, but then I would go rebel. I repeatedly told God, “I’m not adequate enough. Find someone else. This is too hard for me! I can’t do this! This would take too much out of me! It doesn’t pay enough for the job I’d do.” I rebelled more and more, as I got flat-out drunk and embarrassed myself in front of my friends and lost their respect. I found my worth in boys, as I became completely obsessed with one and became a complete idiot with another. There was no way I was going to surrender my life!
I remember that night I got drunk, the next morning I woke up and taught Sunday School. I got in front of the youth, and became honest for the first time. I told them the previous night’s activities. I also told them what I felt God was calling me to. They affirmed me and the calling, and I rolled my eyes and didn’t listen. I began telling a few people, laughing at the preposterousness of it (real word). As I was softened, I pushed further and further until I hit my rock bottom. I went to summer camp and just struggled, because I knew what God wanted me to do. I bawled my eyes out every night, because I didn’t want to accept it. Finally, one night I was praying to God, repenting of the last eight months of nonsense. I asked why, what was the point of this. “This is what you’re meant to be” was the response. I looked up and around, and I saw teenagers praying, youth leaders helping them, people singing, etc (typical camp scene) and I knew it. Right then and there I said, “Fine God. If this is it, fine.” And I gave up!
I cried for months afterwards. I broke things off with the guy I was seeing. I honestly changed my life. I still was reluctant, but trusted. I told God that if was going to make me do this, to find a college. Bam. I told Him that if he wanted me to go to that college, to provide a way to pay. Double Bam. And soon my bitterness towards the surrender turned to joy.
You see, God knows what He’s doing. As I look back, it only makes sense that I would work with teenagers for the rest of my life. I went through an incredible lot as a teen, and I know that its purpose was for helping others. I have a strong sense of leadership. I also have ADD and difficulties with my speech, which is a requirement for youth leaders, haha! I was preparing for ministry before I even entered it, as I collected books and such. Isn’t it funny that I was preparing for something without even realizing it? That’s the power of God.
Every time I would tell a friend that I was going into youth ministry, they would reply, “That makes sense” or “That’s perfect for you!” Thanks friends, for knowing before I did! Not everyone was supportive, especially in my family (they wish I picked something that I would get a whole lot of money out of). But honestly, it only makes sense now.
I have grown a lot since there, partly because of the college God sent me to and partly because of the ministry God sent me to. I am not the same girl I was in high school, and people know it and can tell within the first few minutes of talking to me. God has been piecing the puzzle together for me, and I am letting Him. I don’t want to make plans anymore, because I know that His is already set down for me.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 19:11.
I’m scared sometimes, I’m going to be honest. There are a lot of criticisms for ladies in ministry, and I face it. And I also face the criticisms from my family and others. The scary thing is, I try not to worry, because I know the Father is taking care of me. He takes care of the birds, the flowers, the hippopotamuses. Who am I that He can’t take care of me?
Surrendering sucks sometimes, but man is it sweet.