Over the past few years, something that I consistently found myself believing was the lie that I needed to “catch up.” I felt the need to catch up in school, in relationships, in athletics, and, most prominently, in my walk with Christ. For a long time, I looked at the mentors God placed in my life and thought, “Man, if only I was at that point in my faith, then God would use me.” Since I first came to work at Lake Forest in 2017, I caught myself trying to imitate the actions of my sweet sisters, Lauren Metz and Emma Paramore, in the hope that following in their footsteps would take my faith to the “next level.” I felt like God wouldn’t use me until I met a higher standard. The constant struggle, though, was that as I grew closer to God, the standard continued to move farther away. I believed that I was never advanced enough for God to use me.
This summer was a game changer.
The first few weeks of camp were hard because I wanted God to use me to minister to the kids, and, in the ways that I was expecting, He didn’t. I wanted to bond with every girl in my cabin, experience one-on-one discipleship with campers, and actually witness one of my campers come to Christ instead of only hearing about it later from my cabin partner, Emily. Despite feeling so close to Jesus, I still felt like He didn’t think I was ready to be part of His plan. Like usual, I felt the need to catch up, but this time, God called me out on it.
One registration day, I walked into my cabin and immediately noticed two girls: Mary and Anna (names changed for privacy). As soon as I saw them, I knew God placed them in my cabin for a purpose. I was so excited. Sadly, I ended up working a shift during all of their breaks that week. I didn’t get to see them outside of the 45 minutes I was in the cabin before bedtime. I was completely heartbroken, but God didn’t leave me hanging. When LFR after Dark rolled around, I became overwhelmingly excited, which was very unusual for me. I was so consumed with joy, and I knew I was going to get what I had been asking for all summer. I sat down on the tarp with my cabin, and Emily started her one-on-ones with each of the campers. As soon as my eyes landed on Mary, the LORD made it clear that I would be sharing the gospel with her. I began to debrief the stations they had just visited and connect their meanings back to the life of Christ. For the first time all summer, not a single girl on my tarp said a word- they sat silent and attentive the entire time. One of the LFR after Dark stations asks campers to write whether or not they have ever sinned. When I asked if anyone said “no,” Mary raised her hand.
“I don’t know what sin is.”
I had no idea how to clearly explain sin to an eleven year old girl, but that’s what the Holy Spirit does. For the rest of the night, I could tell that every word leaving my mouth was not my own. God used me to explain exactly what sin is to Mary, which then led to sharing the entire gospel. I could tell she hadn’t heard it before, so when Emily called her to have a one-on-one, I panicked. I was only halfway through sharing the gospel. I knew Mary wasn’t supposed to leave just then, but I didn’t know who to send in her place. All of the girls were listening just as much as Mary. Who was I to decide who needs to hear the gospel and who doesn’t? I froze, but Jesus provided.
Sweet Anna noticed my hesitation to send Mary and rested her hand on my shoulder. I remember her words very vividly.
“I’m ready. Mary needs to hear this, so I will go.” I was completely overcome with peace, and knew it was right to send Anna next. Anna left the tarp and had her one-on-one with Emily, and Mary heard the rest of the gospel. It wasn’t until later that night that God let me in on His bigger picture.
Hearing half of the gospel was enough for Anna to know she wanted a relationship with Jesus. Anna accepted the LORD on the tarp and asked Emily to walk her through a prayer. When she told me that she was ready, she did not merely mean that she was ready to go see Emily. She was ready to welcome Jesus into her heart! The part that excited me most was not that God had used my sharing of the gospel to bring her to Him, but that God used her immediately! Sweet Anna, a newborn baby Christian, recognized Mary’s need to hear about Christ and was moved by the Holy Spirit to act upon it. Anna had literally just accepted Christ, and He used her for His Kingdom within seconds. As a girl who feels like I’m always having to “catch up” in order for God to use me for ministry, this was so sweet.
Not only was I blessed to see the Father work in the lives of Mary and Anna, but I also learned a sweet and relieving lesson. If the Father will use a brand new Christian, surely He will use the rest of us. There is no such thing as “catching up” in your relationship with Christ. Age and experience are not required to be sewn into God’s plan. God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called.