MY INTERNSHIP IS DONE. The journey at UP over the past seven months has been more or less completely unpredictable the whole way through, and for that reason I’m thankful it’s over. During the last few months of my time here, I’ve often thought about what I would have done differently if I had known Camden wasn’t going to happen. Would I have still gone to Toronto? If I had known how hard this year would be, and how much I would struggle every day would I have gone through with it? If, given the choice, would I have done something differently, like get a real job?
My answer to the last question has always been ayes. Of course I would do the responsible thing and get myself a paying job, like a lot of people I know have done. But the thing I’m learning about following Jesus is that life with Him is unpredictable. Just this morning on my way to church a man at the bus stop had taken a glance at the bible in my hand and asked very forwardly what church I go to, which then led him to tell me about how he’s looking for a good church. “I’m going to start going again,” he said, “I just need to find a good church with good teaching that’s straight from the bible and no where else.” We talked for a bit and I told him about the church our camp operated out of right up the street from us, and he said he would go. I wasn’t looking for someone to talk to this morning, but God brought me someone who needed to talk to me, I guess. And though that’s a small of example, it shows (at least to me) that life with Jesus isn’t predictable, much like this internship was.
As a way of prefacing this entry let me just say that I am a bit of a movie snob. There have been movies I’ve managed to sit through this year that, at their end, made me want the 2 hours of my life I spent watching back. For some reason I’ve developed a critical, analyzing attitude towards movies, and I have a low-commitment to when I or my room mates decide to start one up. I mention movies because, though this internship did suck, it doesn’t make me want 7 months of my life back. There were days when all I wanted was to pull the plug and bail, (and trust me, I tried), but God didn’t let me. I don’t know how many countless times I prayed and prayed (or others prayed for me) and pleaded and asked God to “get me out,” only to have my stay extended…and then extended again…and then again, and again, with the only answer being to just trust Him, as I continued, day by day, to wait. If that’s not maddening I don’t know what is. And if that isn’t a test of faith, I don’t know what is either.
Unlike some of the things from movies you see, that wasn’t something I could have predicted.
The thing is, I wanted to escape the place I’d known and do something daring with my life. I wanted to serve God and work with an organization I greatly admired and with people I looked up to. Beyond this year I didn’t really consider my future; I figured if God and I were on the same page it could mean forsaking school for a time and living in Camden for years to come, pouring myself into after-school program and helping seriously disadvantaged youth with no thought about getting help for my seriously fractured self. Make no mistake, I honestly believed God wanted me working in Camden. What I didn’t realize was God just wanted me. So He set out before me to interrupt all the plans and crush all the dreams I had for this year, with the purpose of helping me realize that what He treasured most was not my service but myself, and that He loved me way too much to allow a fun, adventurous year in Camden when what I needed most was Him. I needed to stay in Toronto to be stretched farther than I ever have, to learn certain things, to meet and work with certain people, and to heal. All I saw for my year was service and adventure. God saw a service and adventure of a different kind. He saw healing. And He saw redemption.
As a kid, my mother used to say I was a donkey because of how stubborn I was. No one could make me do anything I didn’t want to without a temper tantrum or some good reasons from my parents about why I had to do what I was told or else. I don’t throw tantrums any more but I can still be very stubborn. Unfortunately, so can God, and let me say right now that He will always win. Always. He had other plans for me, and it took time for me to get over Camden and know that. But I did. And God took the hands that were fists and opened them.
Did this year suck? YES. But I would never want those months back. And now at the end, I can confidently say that the pain and struggle of surrendering and trusting was worth it.