Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Rewritten Script

For three years of college, I was on the school’s drama team. Six to eight students would learn a drama in the fall semester then travel to churches and schools in the spring presenting the play. Each drama taught a lesson about God, faith, and life. One year I took the opportunity to help our coach write and revise our drama. Just like any other writing, the story took different shapes and angles as it was crafted into its final form. It was exciting to get to share creative input that would later be presented to hundreds of people in our ministry.

Just like any unfinished script, it seems like our lives are in a constant state of revision. The direction we are taking one moment is not the direction we end up going. Ideas we hold strongly in one season may change in the next as we learn more about God and life.

In December I finished the work for my bachelor’s degree in youth and family ministry with an emphasis in biblical counseling. (Side note: I can’t help cringing when anyone asks me what my major was. First, because the name is soooooo looooooong. Second, because no one seems to know what on earth it means once I’ve finished saying it.) Basically I’m trained to work with youth at church, and I’ve taken extra classes on counseling people from the Bible.

The counseling aspect of the program held the most interest for me, and as I pushed towards graduation I couldn’t help tiredly thinking of the graduate work I’d need to do to be a professional counselor. I love helping people, but more years of studying and papers and reading and sleep deprivation didn’t sound attractive, and I knew I had no money to pay for more education.

Beyond all that, the thought of a job in counseling felt more like a burden than a joy. I am honored to help carry the burdens of my friends and family and others who need me, but imagining myself in an office day after day opening my heart deeply to the pain of person after person scared me. I didn’t doubt that I could do it.

But I feared it would destroy me.

As I charged toward what felt like a sentence of destruction, missions conference at college put an abrupt halt to everything.

Missions conference at college is wonderful and draining all at once. We get great preaching and incredible access to missionaries and mission agencies. We are also required to spend large amounts of time socializing with the missionaries. This is great. It is also a bit awkward for the non-missions students, as it’s easy to feel like we’re disappointing missionary recruiters. This year, however, I had an interesting encounter with a missionary couple. Rather than trying to pitch their mission group to me, instead they asked me what I was interested in. At the time I was open to basically anything, but especially counseling. My camp involvement also came up, and the man enthusiastically latched onto that idea.

This complete stranger—instead of looking at my plans or his own hopes for his mission group—looked at the gifts and opportunities God had put in my life and recommended a camp internship to me. He gave me a contact and the name of a program, penned on the back of one of his missionary cards, and recommended I look into it. He and his wife also gave me some great advice on counseling ministry, which despite my lack of desire to do professionally I still would love to use in ministry.

I went back to my dorm room that day and immediately found the internship he had recommended. Within a couple hours I had filled out the application and called my parents. The idea of full-time camp ministry—one I had shrugged off in years past—now seemed incredibly right. Camp held the perfect blend of my skills and desires, and in some ways even an unexpected angle of both my youth and counseling training.

That day changed the course of what I had thought would be my future. I again have goals and dreams for ministry, and steps to get there. I’m excited about the future and have a growing sense of being willing to sacrifice anything—the sins and weights that so easily entangle me—for the chance to give my all in this ministry for Christ.

A ministry that combines both my joy and my greatest usefulness. What a blessing, indeed.

This is almost surely not the last revision of the script. I may never have a camp internship (though I’m currently in the process of applying for several—would you pray for me?). I may never get the extra adventure experience and camp training that I’m hoping and praying and striving for. But at the moment this is the goal before me, my means of serving my Maker, and it is my joy to recite these new lines as long as He allows.