This past week I did something I haven’t done since the summer of 1991. I walked out of a cabin and at the same time, a friend walked out of the cabin right next to me. My mind flashed back to the first time she and I met. We were both scared young pastor’s wives who because of the position of our husbands, (or lack thereof) were throw into circumstances we would never chosen on our own.
We were at Junior Camp! Now Junior Camp is a camp that happens once a year just outside Wichita. It is where all Kansas Assembly of God Churches send their kids for a week of spiritual renewal or what some might refer to it as Klingon Camp. Because kids ages 9-13 away from home for the first time, just might kling on to you as a camp counselor.
She and I first met walking out of our separate cabins and frankly, we were probably more scared than the kids. I am still not for sure if I was more scared of the primitive lodging or the fact I had to not only coral 15 girls for a week, but participate in outdoor sports, and don’t even get me started about what the bathrooms looked like. See for this girl, who considers roughing it going to a hotel without room service, you might as well have dropped me off in the middle of the forest, like one of those TV shows that gives you a week to find your way home.
But this year, my friend and I were not at Wheat State Camp outside Wichita, we were at Woodston camp, which is known for being a much more primitive camp. When we walked out of our cabins that first time, and met each other this year, we were not staying in the non-air conditioned/bunk bed cabins, where we shared the bathrooms with probably 100 other people at the end of the building.
No! This week things were totally different than they were so many years ago when She and I first met. This year, we stayed in new cabins with private baths, with air conditioning, carpet on the floor and nice queen size beds. This year we were not scared young pastor’s wives. This year her husband is now the District Superintendent of the Kansas Assemblies of God which in layman terms means he is the Pastor the all the AG Pastors in the state of Kansas and my husband serves on the Presbyter Board or in layman’s terms he is on the Board of Directors for the state of Kansas Assemblies of God and this year both of our husbands were speaking at this camp.
I couldn’t help but think of the difference in the girl that walked out my cabin door this past week compared to the one all those years ago. She has had so much happen over the years. That girl that walked out of the cabin all those years ago would of been impressed with the woman that walked out of those cabins doors this past week, That girl would of thought these women have it all together and their lives must be of always have been perfect and full of peace and fulfillment. That girl would of desired to be who those woman are today. But that girl didn’t know what it took for this girl to become who she is today. This girl, isn’t the same girl that hid in the corner of the tabernacle at camp and cried her eyes out because she was so scared and knew she just wasn’t as smart and pretty as all her counterparts on the other side of those walls. This was not the same girl who had panic and anxiety attacks every time she went to a state event.
My friend and I reminisce about all the water that has went under the bridge in the time we have know each other. Some of the water was smooth sailing, some was pretty rocky and felt more like white river rafting, while others were more like babbling brooks.
See not only has our husbands positions changed, but we as woman have changed. I am not the same person I was back then. Oh! The changes are more than the weight I have gained, the wrinkles on my face or the silver streaks in my hair. I have changed because of the challenges I have face. See, all those tears I have cried has made me stronger. I have faced obstacles both personal, physically and spiritually. I have faced rejection and victories, I have seen God’s hand at work in all of it.
It is those trials and tribulations that gives me the strength to do what I do today. See because I have made it through those test and I have come out on the other side. No! Not everyone of the outcomes was what I expected, in fact most were not what I had wanted or planned, I’ve been homeless, lost loved ones, lost friends, had failed ministries, been rejected by God’s people, family and friends. I had the rug pulled out from under me. I’ve made some really stupid mistakes, and faced challenges with our kids, cared for a handicapped mother and watched her die before my eyes. My marriage has struggled, and dealt with infertility..
My successes have been few and far between, but I count the most important ones as the children I have had, and the grandchildren added to my clan. But none if it is worth anything if my children have not caught the joy of living for Christ. See because they have seen my life and the challenges I have faced they have also seen the hand of God come along side and sometime even pick me up and carry me. They have seen the miracles He has performed in our lives, the checks that came in the mail, the doors that have open for us, the gifts He has given us. Time and time again God has shown up!
See this girl who used to strive for a title now, is no longer impressed with peoples status. She is more about where people’s hearts are, she is more about being who God has called her to be.
She is thankful for all that she has went through because it has given her the ability now, to look back and say….. “Bring it on devil, Do you see where God has brought me from?”. “If He can do that, My God can do anything!”, ”You can’t mess with me satan because my daddy is the King” , “Whatever comes my way, my God will take care of me”
So this girl now refuses to hide in corners and cry her eyes out. She refuses to allow man to define her. She stopped listening to those negative voices in her head, she now knows whose she is because her daddy God has showed up time and time again to rescue her. She is not the fear driven, people pleasing, person she was all those years ago, intimidated by everyone and everything. No! This girl has experienced the unconditional irrefutable love of God, not because He gave her everything she ever wanted but because He taught her that God’s word says “ I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. This girl knows that she can be content when things don’t happen the way she planned because it must mean that God has a better plan. (notice I didn’t say easier one?)
This girl also knows, what Deuteronomy 31:6 says, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” See that girl knew what it said all those years ago, but until she experienced it she didn’t have to assurance that it was true.
This girl has had to learn to give up her will and follow after God. This girl has realized that He is not a God sitting up in heaven like the arcade game, whack-a-mole, with a big stick just waiting for me to mess up, so He can hit me over the head.. He is actually a loving God trying to direct my paths, because He knows the way that I need to go, He has been in the future and He knows my past, while at the same time He is my very present help in time of trouble.( See Psalms 46:1)
This girl who lived all her life in a church full of condemnation, religiosity, in fear and intrepidation. Learned that there is a loving God who is up their with arms outstretched bidding for me to come to Him, asking for me to trust Him, telling me that I am His child and He will take care of me I have nothing to fear. He reminds me I only need the approval of the audience of one and that is Him. That no matter what those around me think or do I am safe in His arms and if I will only strive to please Him, He will carry me through. He reminds me that, He is not half as hard on me as I am on myself. He tells me I am complete in Him and because of that, I now walk with my head lifted up, no longer ashamed or in fear. I have straighten my crown that He gave me and smile with confidence of whose I am. Not because of anything I have done, but because of who lives in me and loved me so much He gave His life for me. So the question today is, Which girl are you?