Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
I've been reflecting upon plans this past semester. When I was in high school, I would imagine all of the things that I wanted to do when I got into college or when I was older. I wanted to do it all! My summer's would be filled with one wholesome Brethren activity after the other. However, not all of my plans have come to fruition. There are things called "rejection letters" that you don't necessarily anticipate when dreaming big.
One plan I made was to be a part of the Youth Peace Travel Team. A summer commitment with 2-3 other COB young adults who travel to various summer camps each week speaking on peace, non-violence, and the gospel. I'd always loved camp and have a strong passion for pacifism. I applied to be a member of that team my sophomore year, but received a rejection letter.
Let's not call it a rejection letter...let's call it a "Wrong-Door-Try-Again" letter.
So, after receiving my
rejec "WDTA" letter I was feeling rather bummed. Especially because earlier that week, I'd received a "WDTA" letter from the NYC Coordinators. I hadn't been selected as Youth Worker (another one of those plans that I had made), because I had applied to YPTT. Now I wasn't even able to go to National Youth Conference at all.
I was really frustrated with God. I was also frustrated with the system - why couldn't they see that God was calling me to do these things?
I don't quite remember how things fell into place, but by the end of March I was sitting down with the Program Director at Brethren Woods for my job interview. I was applying to be a camp counselor at Brethren Woods for the summer. It has never been a matter of "if" I was going to work at Brethren Woods, it has always been a matter of "when." Of when God would call me. A week or so later I was offered the job and it was so exciting to find the "Right Door" and receive that "Right Door! Hurray!" letter in the mail, full of a packing list and training schedule.
My heart was happy and I was content. I had no qualms about working at Brethren Woods. I was only compromising my bank account and that bothered my parents, not me. I had already spent a summer in an office (inside) and my soul was ready for a summer in the woods with children and God. I needed this. The first time that I drove up the Brethren Woods lane and saw Linetta, the PD, and her smiling face - I knew that I was home.
Even so, I was still feeling a little bitter about not being able to attend National Youth Conference. A handful of people from camp were going to NYC and all of my college friends were youth workers. I tried not to let it get me down, besides I'd attended NYC 2006 and that was my year anyway. When NYC week rolled around, I was nervous about that week of camp. My co-counselor and my JR. counselor were both 17. I was going back to Cedar Cove, the 3-5th grade age group, where I had a troubling week 2 of camp. Not to mention, everyone was at NYC and I wasn't.
Despite my qualms, I never gave them any room in my head. I thought them and dismissed them. I hadn't worked with either my co-counselor or JR co-counselor before - how could I use their age against them? Besides, I was a responsible, passionate 17 year-old at one point. This was a new week, with new campers and it couldn't be the same as my difficult week 2. Also, I don't linger in the negative for that will only bring myself and others down. I approached the situation with a smile. The week would be great.
And it was. My co-counselor and I clicked - we wore matching pink headbands all week and tag-teamed wonderfully. My Jr. counselor was fun and she laughed and enjoyed the campers. My campers were amazing! We bonded so well as a family unit. We had devotions together every night. Whenever I asked if someone wanted to pray - someone did! We even did popcorn prayers and they chimed in. They were a blessing. I was especially sad when this week ended.
All summer, even in moments where I thought I might explode, I felt at home. When I was walking along the pond with my patience waning as I tried to coax a frustrated camper to nature. Or as I hiked in the heat of the day along the gravel road to the Falls. Or when I had to sit down and have a one-to-one with an angry camper. Or week 5, when all of my college friends were in Colorado and I was in Virginia with the best group of campers all summer. Never did I ever imagine being somewhere else.
God knew better than I did where I needed to be this past summer. After receiving my two rejection letters, I could have turned my back on God. I could have said, "Fine, if God won't have me then I'll just go work retail all summer."**I could have been consumed by my bitterness and let it overtake my path. I chose not to and continued looking for the door that God was leading me to.
I don't stop making plans or setting goals, but I always leave myself open to the leading of the Spirit.
Here's my post from last February when I received my "wrong-door-try-again" letters.
AND here's my small reflection on the summer.
**Working retail doesn't make you any less of a person. I just felt that I could have turned away from any form of ministry at all and devoted my summer completely to money.