I sit here right now listening to music to keep the silence at bay. An empty house is something that’s unfamiliar to me. I grew up in a home with many brothers and sisters to keep me company and after graduating, always had at least one roommate. Except right now. For one long week, I am without a roommate, and for one long week, I sit here waiting to hear back about what my future holds. In a way it’s ironic that these two things aligned the way they did.
You see, in the silence, I think. And think. And then think some more. I think until my thoughts overwhelm me and I can’t think anymore. There is no one here to distract me while I make dinner or to talk to me when the thoughts overflow. So I sit here right now and feel the butterflies and the nerves creeping their way across my stomach up into my head. I sit here waiting for the call or email that shapes where God will lead me in the next year.
Roughly a year and a half ago I had an exciting realization in my life and that realization led me to apply for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Dallas for ministry, a decision that would lead me away from TAMUG and all of my Galveston family. I was accepted to the school and truly couldn’t wait to pursue the passion I had been searching for since high school ended….
Then I was put in the hospital. It was nothing too serious but it was enough to put me in the hospital for a week and enough to consume my paychecks up until just a couple weeks ago. As a result, I couldn’t afford the move or change of schools and ended up staying in Galveston which everyone told me was for the best. Looking back, I am thankful that it didn’t work out the way I had planned for it to but not because I feel or felt the need to finish school at A&M. I’m thankful because I needed this past year to grow in my relationship with God but really the growth of the last year was more about reestablishing the relationship with God I had chose to neglect because of my own selfish desires and that reestablishment didn’t begin to happen until November of last year.
If you’ve read my last blog, you know by now that I spent the last year making bad decisions and when I finally began to choose to see what was wrong with how I was living, I decided to quit a job I had bartending and managing despite the fact that it was what was paying my bills. I knew I needed to quit and get myself out of the environment I was in because I had become someone I didn’t want to be, someone God didn’t want or intend for me to be, someone who was angry and selfish. I also knew I needed to learn to trust that God would provide for me without that job just as He always had.
I started working at my church back in October, before I had quit my restaurant job. Though I had recognized before all the bad decisions that I am called to ministry, my job at my church was one of a couple of things that reinforced what I knew to be true. They call me the “Office Elf” at work because I do a bunch of random tasks for everyone and each week new things are added on and some of the things I’m responsible for are really tedious and pointless to a lot of my friends. My response to that is that there are no small or unnecessary jobs when you’re working for God. It’s the miniscule tasks, the behind-the-scenes work and the helping others that brings me a joy I can’t quite put into words.
In March of last year I decided to go to an event called Passion in Georgia, which is a weekend of listening to speakers teach us about God and His glory. We spend the weekend not only listening but also worshipping and meeting with small groups to talk about everything we have gone over, pray together and learn. When I decided to go, I started praying that God would use that weekend to set a fire in my heart because everywhere I looked, I saw a spark in my friend’s eyes and I didn’t have that spark for marine biology the way they did. I had known that for awhile but became greatly discouraged after having to give up seminary and after hearing everyone tell me to stay in school at A&M and finish my degree.
Why Georgia for Passion instead of Texas? The Georgia Aquarium. At their aquarium they have whale sharks, which just so happen to be my favorite animal aside from turtles. So for almost a year, I prayed that either God would reignite my passion for marine biology so that I would have the drive to finish out my degree or reaffirm that ministry is what I am called to. After praying for months and setting aside money, I flew to Georgia with two of my best friends in January where we spent a good 6-7 hours at the aquarium before Passion began. One of my friends is also a marine biology major and the other, her boyfriend, is a marine administration major. We were sitting in a room watching the whale sharks for almost 5 hours and I was listening to them talk about all of the animals and how their anatomy effected the way they swim, eat, breathe, etc. while they named them off. Allison, who has worked at Sea World for a couple summers now, talked about the animals more in depth and compared them to animals from Sea World and we had all kinds of questions we wanted answers for and Dylan joined in as if he had taken the same classes as us up to that point.
And then it happened. Dylan, someone who is not a marine biology major, started mentioning things I didn’t even know. I’m a couple years older than both of them and even the friend who wasn’t studying marine biology knew way more than I did. I remember sitting back silently listening to the two of them, feeling discouraged and even like I wasn’t very smart in that moment. Before much longer I found myself thinking about how amazing God’s creations are and how the ocean was my favorite along with all of the life it holds, but I also realized I would never be the one able to spout off information about it the way my friends did because I love it but it isn’t where my passion is rooted. For the third time, it felt like God was trying to push me in a new direction.
Later that night our weekend at the Passion Conference in Atlanta started and God broke me of myself. Christine Caine, who I had never heard speak before, was talking to us about how she had thyroid cancer the previous year and how they found other masses in her throat that they were going to look at when they went in for surgery. Christine Caine spends her life talking to others about Christ on stages and in everyday life. She has built many ministries and she knew if anything went wrong and she lost her voice, she would lose her main tool for ministering to others. She said the last thing she prayed as she went in for surgery wasn’t that it would go well and everything would be fine but instead she asked God, “Am I taking everyone home with me I was supposed to take?” I started crying as she spoke because I’ve lived my life so selfishly for so long that I never took the time to tell others about God, I wasn’t living in a way that reflected His glory and I wondered how many people I had already missed because of that. God definitely used that weekend to reaffirm ministry as my call and passion in life.
Since the weekend of January 17th, I haven’t been able to put down my Bible. I spend so much of my time reading, watching podcasts, going through devotionals and praying because I can’t get enough of God and how great He is. If I’m being honest, I never used to open my Bible. I used it on Sunday mornings and tucked it away on my bookshelf throughout the week where it collected dust until the next Sunday. Now, when I should be opening my Invertebrates book for school, I’m opening my Bible instead. The excitement that all my friends have for what they are doing reflects in my conversations with them. When I talk to them about marine biology, it really turns into them talking endlessly while I sit and listen because they have a deep rooted passion for what they are doing. I am overjoyed to tell you now that God is that passion for me!
So I sit here now with butterflies consuming my body the way they do in all of the silent moments this week because this is the week I find out whether or not I was chosen for a year-long ministry internship I applied for. I submitted my application on January 19th and have made it through the first couple rounds of the selection process, all the while reminding God that I trust Him and that I only want it if it’s what He wants for me. So often in my life I’ve made decisions based on what I want but it is more than clear to me that God’s plan is ALWAYS better than my own.
In all of the thinking this week, I’ve let my mind become plagued with doubts about whether or not I deserve the internship or whether or not I’m good enough and the truth is, I’m not good enough. I’m no better than anyone else who did or did not apply. But God is good enough. He can use each and every one of us if we allow Him to and that makes all the difference.
I still may not get this internship, but for once I have no doubts about what I want to do and I trust that if I don’t get it, God has something bigger and better planned for my life. At the same time, I know without a doubt that if I get this internship, it is ENTIRELY because of God. I’m one small person going against so many others but He sees me and everyone else He created as so much more and He knows better than us what we need in each season of our lives.
Many of the people I’ve talked to about this internship bring up the fact that I wouldn’t be in school next year if I do get it as a concern. That was something I recognized when I applied for it but I also recognize that I would be learning so much more than school could ever teach me. If I don’t get it, I have no intention of going back to Texas A&M to finish my degree in Marine Biology. That decision may also frustrate some people but the way I see it is that God doesn’t wait on our American timelines. If I stay at A&M, I still have two years of classes left because I’ve had to take them at such a slow pace compared to everyone else as a consequence of money. Despite even that, I don’t want to keep God waiting. I want to be in a position to be used by Him and I know no better way to do that than to learn and grow in Him for those around me so that I never doubt the truth, always speak the truth and am not led astray.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” – Colossians 2:6-7
I want to use the things God has led me through to help others but I want to help them in a way that points and leads them to God. Everyone deserves a chance to know God.