Last week I had the amazing opportunity to go with both the junior high and senior high kids to Lutheran Valley Retreat in Woodland, CO, for their Colorado Camp trip. It was an awesome trip, filled with lots of memorable moments. Our high school students had the opportunity to do service projects around camp the first few days we were there. We also spent time hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, rappelling, white-water rafting, and doing both low and high elements on the challenge course. We spent the week in God’s word, looking at the life of Daniel from the Old Testament, with the theme “Walk This Way.” Daniel lived in a time where his culture said it was okay to do whatever you want, with whoever you want, whenever you want. But God desired Daniel to live his life differently, and to follow him. At the end of every day, we spent time in worship and prayer around the campfire. During these campfire times, students were encouraged to share a testimony about something that God was doing in their life, or how they saw God in others during the day’s events. Throughout the week, several students shared their testimonies about what God was doing in their lives at camp, or in the lives of others around them. God began to work on my heart early in the week through their stories, and I shared my own testimony with the group on the final night we were there. What I shared with the group is below:
I had decided to go along with the youth group to camp, to have some fun and relive the summers I spent while in college working at summer camps at a camp counselor. I was expecting to have some fun on this trip, but was not expecting what the Lord was going to do in and through my life last week.
8 years ago this summer, was the last summer that I worked at camp. I was getting ready to complete my DCE internship, and was going through the call process to take a call to serve as a DCE in full-time ministry. However, my world was shattered just a few weeks before I finished my internship.
I was engaged to a man who I thought was my prince charming. We had a few struggles in our relationship, but overall I thought that he was the one for me. I hadn’t really dated very much until we met, and had done everything right in my eyes, up to this point in our relationship. I knew I was going to be in ministry, and wanted to be an example for the students that I would work with, be a testimony on how to resist temptation and have a perfect relationship. So I was waiting until I was married to have sex. Just about six weeks before I was to be married to this man, it came out that he had been meeting women on the internet and having sex with them.
I called off the wedding and moved back home, just absolutely devastated. How could God allow this to happen to me? I had done everything “right”, shouldn’t I deserve something better? In an attempt to hide my pain and heal from this, I decided that if I got back together with this man and lower my standards, that maybe it would keep him from meeting women on the internet.
Ever since I made that decision, I felt like God couldn’t use me. I knew what his command was when it came to having sex outside of marriage, and it tore me apart inside to know that I lowered my standards just to be in a relationship that wasn’t even healthy to begin with. How would God ever use me, when I made a decision that I knew was wrong? I felt like God couldn’t use me in ministry anymore, and so I made the decision to take my name off of call lists and no longer pursue taking a call as a DCE.
I know that God grants healing and forgiveness, but I didn’t feel as though that was meant for me. But God gave me healing for this, and showed me that he does desire to use me in ministry. As I shared this testimony around the campfire last week, I had many of the girls come up to me and tell me how much they appreciated me sharing my own struggle, and that they want me to continue to be a part of their lives.
So, why do I share this story with you? Because I believe that there may be some of you reading this blog today, that are struggling with an issue in your life that you need healing for. Or there are some of you that are not volunteering your time and talents, because you feel as though you’re not good enough, or that your life is not good enough to serve. And I want you to know that is a lie that Satan is trying to sell you.
All of us are imperfect. We all sin. We all have struggles that we face. But that is the beauty in the forgiveness that God offers to use on the cross. God desires to forgive ALL of our sins, and desires us to have healing and to live our lives with whole hearts, in service to him.
I’m not sure what this experience means for me moving forward, but one thing that I do know, is that God wants me to use my struggles as a testimony and witness to others, that God wants to give them forgiveness and wants to grant them healing from whatever it is they are struggling with.