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Choose a Challenge This Summer (1/2)

Miranda Face Painting

Between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I went home for the summer. I lived with my parents, found a good-paying 8-5 job and found life to be really easy. That summer was comfortable and secure. I knew what to expect each day, had a predictable schedule and was good at my job. 

It felt good. It was fun. It was a good summer. 

Come August, I headed back to school with a large checking account and another bullet point for my resume. I remember thinking, “I’m killing this adulthood thing!” And I was in many ways.

I turned 19 that month right as school was starting. I looked back on 18 and thought, “I really haven’t changed much these past few months.” Although there was nothing wrong with the way I spent my summer, I hadn’t been challenged. I hadn’t grown.

During my sophomore year a speaker came to our college ministry advocating for us to “give our summers away” to a discipleship training program, a mission trip, a Christian summer camp or an internship with a ministry. He reminded us that after college, there is no more “summer vacation.” You get a job with two weeks of PTO a year and that’s it. 

Yikes! I hadn’t imagined life without summer vacation! I needed to use the time I’d been given to do something valuable. Something challenging. I began to wonder about giving MY summer away. I began to pray that God would lead me where I needed to be that next summer. 

After months of prayer and consideration, I applied for a discipleship training program and I was accepted! I got a job at a summer retreat center and lived there for the entire summer. I was worried that I wouldn’t make a lot of money and I was fearful about being away from the comforts of home. What if I didn’t have enough money next year? What if it was hard living with people I didn’t know? What if it wasn’t easy?

But God knew it was what I needed because it was one of the greatest seasons of my life!

I met new people, I made new friends, had new experiences. I couldn’t predict what would happen each day. I experienced more conflict that summer than ever before and it made me uncomfortable. But from that conflict came growth. 

I was challenged in my faith both in the program and also in new relationships with co-workers. The uncomfortable setting made for many opportunities to put into practice the faith I had always professed. Because I did not have control, I HAD to trust God with my life during that season. And it was AWESOME!

The paycheck that summer was meager. But the experience was a treasure! It was the most defining time in my life up to that point. Being uncomfortable brought out who I really was and Who my trust was really in. 

Luke 12:22- 23, 30-31 says:

"And he said to his disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing… 

"'For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.'"

God knows what we need. He knows what I need. He knows what you need. What are we commanded to do as a result of Him knowing our needs? SEEK HIS KINGDOM! Something really beautiful happens when we seek His Kingdom above our own desire for control and comfort… we HAVE to trust Him. And in that trust, we become free to be more ourselves that ever before. 

Come back to read part 2 on Monday.