Responding to Growth

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Christian thinkers often point out where God displays His sense of humor in the Scriptures and in our lives. They are wise people. God consistently has me doing things that I never planned to do, and even said I would never do. The sum of my experiences this past summer serve as a perfect example of how God continually shows His characteristic humor in my life.

I grew up in a small, single traffic light, one chain restaurant town in South Georgia. I am someone who dreams big, and living in Buena Vista, Georgia never fit the idea I had for myself. When I was 18 I left small town life for college life, and when I did I told myself that nothing could drag me back (aside from visiting family and friends, of course).

Four years later, God had a different plan.

The plans I had for the summer fell through, and I was looking for a summer job. I was on a SWAT weekend at a church in low and behold, South Georgia. I was a host home leader for a precious group of girls. The weekend ended and one of the youth leaders gave me his contact information and told me to email him if I was interested in working with their youth for the summer.  I had enjoyed my time with them immensely, but that was one weekend and not an entire summer in South Georgia.

Summertime runs the gamut of inescapable heat, unbearable humidity, and copious flying insects. Was this really where God wanted me to be from May to July? The environment was not my only hesitation though, I also had never been in charge of a youth group for an extended period of time. Yes, I have worked with youth during my time as a SWAT leader, but could I spend 2.5 months in a church, planning all summer activities, teaching and helping students along in their faith journey? I admire those who love to do these things, but it was slightly out of my comfort zone.

After much prayer and counsel from others I eventually decided to go to where the Lord had called me. It probably wouldn’t be that bad, after all God was placing me there...right?

The truth is, as I have come to find out, God puts you in certain places for many reasons. Sometimes it is because you may have certain gifts that allow you to perfectly fill a role, or possibly He chose you as the best influence for a certain person. God’s reason for me? I believe it was growth.

My summer was not bad, but there were some times of difficulty. There were many times where I questioned why God put me there. There were times I wanted to quit. Yet, in spite of the difficulty, I knew quitting and leaving would be a big mistake. God assured me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. He made me realize I was there to grow, and growth does not come easily.

This truth in my heart made it easier to endure the hard times, and made me cherish the good times more. I look back on that summer now, and I know the growth I went through was beneficial for me. I was challenged, I was tested, and I endured. I learned so many things. I connected with God more than I had been. I experienced just how difficult leadership can be. My growth wasn’t limited to ministry, for instance, I even learned that I enjoy yoga. God always has the best plan, even if it seems difficult. I learned to trust His will for my life above all else.

 

-Shealy Smith