I don’t remember what my thoughts were as a 20-year-old Young Life leader but they certainly weren’t, “I hope my knees can take this.”
Fast forward 17 years, and that was my first thought when I realized that I would be taking middle school girls to camp this summer. Don’t get me wrong. I am VERY excited. So much so that I just very wrote very in all caps. It’s just, I’m not 100% sure that I’m up to the challenge.
It’s been 12 years since I took kids to camp. Add a torn ACL and the normal wear and tear on the body, and this accident prone not so young lady hopes her knees can handle it. The running. The dodging. The sliding around on tarps covered in shaving cream. What if I break something? is just one of the thoughts that flutters through my mind.
You might read that and think, isn’t that part of why you got back involved with WyldLife? To take kids on adventures and help them navigate life? Yes…and no. When I jumped back in the trenches, I had a plan of attack. I would be the really fun awesome new teacher, make lots of great relationships with my kids and eventually take the kids that I connected with to camp. Maybe get reconstructive surgery before I go. My plan.
God’s plan looks a little different. I don’t know why I’m surprised. Instead of taking a group of 6th grade girls who adore me that I have been building relationships with over the past year to camp, I will be taking girls that I barely know. Who have crossed over into the teenage world of insecurity and eye-rolling. Who really want to be going with another leader. Their leader. The one who has been investing in them, building friendships and walking with them the past year. Unfortunately, she has a family commitment on the mainland this summer that makes camp an impossibility. And so at a meeting over coffee, my team leader basically told me I was the only option. And when I said, “But they don’t want me to be their leader.” He replied in all honesty, “No. They don’t.” (insert the sound of truth piercing my heart) “But God does.”
Driving away from that meeting, memories of cabin times gone bad and over zealous leader faux pas starting whirling through my mind. And I could feel the self-doubt and fear begin to creep in. And so instead of jumping down the rabbit hole. I cried out to God and asked Him to remind me of the truth. His truth.
These are a few of things that popped into my mind.
I am here for the right reasons.
God loves obedience and faith. This is going to take a lot of both.
I have something that God wants me to impart and share with these girls.
I may no longer the hip, fun, trend-setting leader that kids want to emulate but I can be the steady, loving, patient rock that will not be moved.
I know my identity in Christ. I know that I have nothing to offer these kids but Jesus. He is the light that shines through me. Being young, fun, funny, Fill in the blank is not what leads kids to Christ. It is the spirit of God that draws them to Himself. For whatever reason, I get to part of the process, however God sees fit.
Over the past month, I have had to constantly remind myself of these truths. And God has been so sweet. On Saturday, I was driving and came across this little tree. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and couldn’t believe something so little could create such big fruit. Those are full size mangoes growing on that scrappy little tree. And I felt like God was whispering. Pay attention.
I see myself when I look at this tree. Little. Scrawny. Not very mighty. And yet look at that fruit. It makes me think of Jesus talking to his disciples.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16
I don’t know what God is calling you to do right now or how you feel about it. Maybe you are like me, obeying with sweaty knees and shaking legs. Let this photograph remind you that the Kingdom of God is unique. Where the last are first and the scrawniest of trees sometimes produce the loveliest fruit.