Stories. Everyone has them. Love stories. Funny stories. Sad stories. Family stories. Old stories. New stories. Long stories. Short stories. And then there are the stories that aren’t quite finished yet. That’s where I am right about now. At 30,000 feet, I’m somewhere over Mississippi (which is the farthest west I’ve ever been by the way), and in about three and a half hours, I’ll be landing in Los Angeles, California, my home for the six weeks. Yeah, you heard me. Six weeks. You can imagine the nightmare it was for me to pack for this trip. But before I tell you why I’m going to LA this summer, I should probably back up to where my yet-to-be-finished story begins.
It was February of this year. I was at work for a non-profit organization in Atlanta, and my team was about to finish conducting a two-day training session for what we call City Coaches. These coaches were going to be responsible for students that would be serving and living in the coaches’ cities for the summer through a program called GenSend. I was sitting in the back with one of my coworkers, Mrs. Cheryl, or as we like to call her, Mama Cheryl. As I’m waiting for my boss to close the last training seminar, Mama Cheryl leans over and tells me that she thinks I should do GenSend this summer.
In the job I had at the time, I lived and breathed GenSend. A lot of the projects I worked on related to it in some way. I knew that it was a six-week development process for college students. I knew there were going to be between 400-500 students serving in 16 cities this summer. I knew the general details of how GenSend worked. I knew the goal of GenSend was to encourage students to live their life on mission. And I also knew, so I thought, that GenSend was something that I didn’t want to do.
You see, I’m kind of a behind-the-scenes kind of girl. I was completely content creating materials, helping with trainings, and doing whatever else I could to help the students who would be a part of GenSend. But that was it. So as Mama Cheryl proceeded to ask me about doing GenSend three more times that night, I politely said no thank you and moved on.
After I left work, I decided to go by Panera to grab dinner on my way home. As I am anxiously waiting in line for my broccoli cheddar soup, I am scrolling through some devotions that I get sent to my phone every day. I land on one entitled “Lord I Love You But…” and I begin to read. The Lord might as well have put my name at the top of the screen. It was that straightforward. Cue my heart pounding out of my chest.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. The moment you know God is trying to tell you something and you’re doing everything in your power to pretend you don’t hear Him. Yeah, I was smack dab in the middle of one of those moments.
Just to give you a clearer picture, here is an excerpt from the devotion. (You can read it in full here.)
“Most of us are quick to declare our love for God, but at times our reluctance to serve Him tells a different story. Honestly consider whether you have found yourself saying or thinking, I love you, Lord, but don’t call me to do that!
Are you quick to follow the Lord’s leading when a need arises, or are you a reluctant servant who’s preoccupied with your own plans and desires?”
After I read this devotion for the fifth time, I grabbed my soup and drove home. And instead of jamming out to Taylor Swift per usual, I just kept saying “Lord if you really want me to do this, you’re going to have to make it so clear,” as if He hadn’t already been clear enough. But I’m stubborn.
So later that night after everyone in my family was asleep, I shut myself in my room and began to just flip through my Bible. I didn’t want to look for certain verses or Google certain topics that would give me a preferred answer. I just wanted clarity. Whenever I came across a verse I thought applied to my situation, I wrote it down. Here’s the list I ended up with:
- Ephesians 5:10
- Ephesians 3:20
- Ephesians 4:11
- 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
- Proverbs 16:1-3, 9
- Isaiah 26:3-4, 8
- Jeremiah 29:11-14
- Matthew 28:19-20
- Romans 12:2
- Romans 8:8-10
- 2 Corinthians 5:7
- 1 Peter 4:2, 18-19
- Hebrews 11:1
- Colossians 2:6-7
- James 4:1-10
Did I mention that I’m stubborn? Yeah well clearly The Lord didn’t want me to second-guess anything, hence His very thorough response to my desperate plea for clarity.
There was no denying it at this point. I didn’t know which city I was going to end up in. I didn’t know who was going to be on my team. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. But I knew that The Lord was calling me to go on this trip this summer. Now all I had to do was tell my parents.
I wasn’t really worried about them saying no. But I honestly had no idea how they would react. At this point, I didn’t have a job nailed down for the summer. I was supposed to be moving out in August. And I was about to have to buy a new car. So the idea of living in a different state for the summer and not being able to make money or look for a job could be a tough sell. So I sat down with my parents at dinner the next night and told them everything that happened in the past 24 hours, from the devotion at Panera, to the praying in the car, to the list of verses on my phone. And they just listened. They didn’t say a word until I was done.
Just so you know, silence from my parents is not usually a good thing. So I asked them what they thought, and my mom was the first to speak up. And in doing so, she basically gave me the cherry to top off my sundae of confirmation that Jesus had been spoon-feeding me about this whole thing. She said, “Well, I don’t really think it matters what we think. The Lord has clearly called you to do this so you should do it.”
That brings me back to right now, where I’m sitting on the plane.
It’s amazing how one day you can be so sure that you’re not going to do something, and then a few days later, be completely at peace and certain that you should do it. Sure I needed a lot of pushing and convincing, but The Lord gave me the clarity I asked for. And now I’m just praying He gives me the same clarity to know who and how to serve in Los Angeles during my time in GenSend.
I just read Hebrews 6:10-11, which were the verses that accompanied that devotion that kick-started this journey. They say, “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show the same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.”
Those two verses in a nutshell describe what I’ll be doing for the next six weeks. I will be helping the people in Los Angeles and showing them the love of Christ in whatever way The Lord leads me. I don’t know exactly whom I’ll be serving and I don’t know exactly how I’ll be serving. I’m leaving it up to Him to lead me where He wants me. What I do know is that God has called me to Los Angeles this summer to play a part in the story that He is writing in this city. And in doing so, He is pushing me to show diligence so that my hope to be used for His Kingdom may be fully realized.