“Okay, so before we leave we’re going to just cover these kids in prayer.” This was the voice of my associate pastor at Riverpark as he addressed all of the volunteers that had come out for this evening’s backpack giveaway. We had been in one of the roughest areas of Shreveport for about an hour and a half where we got to love on some kids and pass out some much-needed backpacks for their upcoming school year (and probably many school years to come seeing as many of their parents are not able to afford these school supplies for their children).
As soon as our pastor said, “Go,” and we began to pray, the Lord’s voice hit me like a ton of bricks.
He said, “Elles, it is no coincidence that this was where you are on your last night of the summer. This was the perfect ending to the summer I planned for you. It was a summer of sacrifice.”
And you know what? He was right (duh). This was my last high school summer and instead of going to the beach, Disney world, camp with my church, camp with all my friends, Wednesday nights with my youth group, etc… I spent my summer in a foreign country doing evangelism and loving on kids, staffing a camp of middle schoolers four days after I got back stateside, and spending nights like tonight, my last night of “freedom,” in a rough neighborhood playing with a bunch of smelly, sweaty kids. This summer I sacrificed time with friends and family, comfortable resources that I take for granted in the states, sleep, but more than that I sacrificed me. I put myself at the feet of the Lord and said, “Here I am. Use me.” And you know what? He did. He stretched me, pried me finger by finger from my comfort zone, and in the process taught me more about Himself than I’ve ever known before.
Now do not get me wrong: I am not writing this blog to say, “Look at me! This is what I did!” The purpose of this blog is quite the contrary. I want you to see that NONE of this was my own doing. The sacrifices I made were merely the cost of the availability that I laid at the Lord’s feet. Did I willingly sacrifice my comfort zone this summer? Absolutely not! Most of the time, I did it kicking and screaming. And how did the Lord respond? He said, “Look you said, ‘here I am. Use me.’ So this is me using you. I did not say it was going to easy, but you said you were available, and so this is me telling you that it is worth it.”
So this is me, on the other side of the sacrifice, on the other side of obedience, telling you that what God told me rang true. It was all worth it, and I would not trade this season of sacrifice for the whole world. I would not trade the relationships I formed or the lessons I learned in this season for anything.
But tonight, there I stood in the bottoms of Shreveport, thanking the Lord for this season and praying over the next one I am about to walk into (school starts tomorrow), and somewhere I got off thinking that when the summer is over, the season of sacrifice ends. And there was the Lord saying, “Hello!! Elles!!! Are you listening to yourself? These things that I taught you in this season were not strictly for this season! Take these lessons with you into your next season. The sacrifice is not over, it has just begun.”
One would think that after the season I have just been through with the Lord that this would have been obvious, and it really probably should have been. But then, there is the contrast (one of many) between me and God. I am stubborn. I do not see the things God sees. I do not understand the things that He understands. But that is okay! He is walking me through it each day. He is revealing to me the things that I miss. He is ever faithful and He is drawing me unto Himself even in times that I do not deserve it—especially in times I do not deserve it (let’s be real, I never deserve it)!
So here I am, on my last night of summer, my last night of this season, still being molded and taught by Jesus. Being humbled at the lessons I am learning and the plans that He has for my future. Nervous about how much more He is going to pry me out of my comfort zone, but excited because of His faithfulness to do so even when I put up a fight… and all just because I said, “Here I am. Use me.”
(above is the backpack giveaway from tonight... chaotic fun)
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”