Comfort & Fear

I have come to realize the scariest and most comforting place to be is in the midst of God’s Will. It’s scary because the details are uncertain. It’s comforting because I know Who is writing my story. God says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29.11).

One of those moments for me took place during the summer of 2002. I had just finished my freshman year of college and accepted a youth ministry internship at the small church in which I had made a profession of faith 11 years earlier. My relationship with the church was rekindled when I asked the pastor to baptize me just before my college career began. We had stayed in touch over the past 8 months, which led to my internship.

I had known for a couple of years that the Lord was calling into fulltime ministry. However, I had no idea what that even looked like. With one year of college education under my belt I was highly unequipped to lead in the areas for which I was responsible.  I’ll never forget the day I was literally handed the keys to the church and then told by the pastor that he was going to be out of town for a week. You need to understand, cellphones were not an everyday thing at this point in history. So I was truly on my own.

Ministry is a serious calling. It is not something that should ever be taken lightly. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy that some have the desire to minister but not everyone is equipped. I had the desire. I didn’t know if I was equipped. The only thing I knew for sure was to be completely dependent on God.

That summer transformed my prayer life and affirmed my calling. I preached my first sermon. I led a weeklong retreat for students. I learned how to negotiate pricing on building rentals and booking bands. I rallied my friends to partner with me in ministry.  I ordered way too much food for events and lost all track of time when leading weekly student events. We had a lot of fun. But more importantly, we made a big deal out of Jesus.

I look back on those days and I am reminded of God’s faithfulness through the uncertainties around me. What I didn’t tell you is that was also the summer my mom had been diagnosed with skin cancer. She had the spot on her arm removed but was unable to go to work until she was fully recovered. In my experience, cancer is a nasty beast that causes just as much emotional damage as it does physically. The moment the possibility of a diagnosis is announced, the mind starts going places it should never go to. The fear of the unknown can overwhelm you. It can rob you from your sleep, distract you from what is important, and cloud your judgment.

Today I praise God that my mom made a full recovery and has been cancer free for 16 years!

Paul has taught us that God’s Will is good, it’s pleasing, and it’s perfect (Rom. 12.2). Walking through that season with my family was one of the scariest moments of my life. I didn’t know much about cancer at the time so my mind was an awful place to visit. I was serving in a capacity in which I was fully unprepared and uneducated. That season of my life drove me to my knees and taught me that living in God’s Will can be the scariest and most comforting place to be.

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