Friday, August 28, 2015

The Sword of the Spirit

I have procrastinated on writing this blog because I don’t want to face the emotions that come with this post. It is true that God loves Campus by the Sea; and He delights in using that space to change people’s hearts. Usually the lamest week of the year is the one after I come home from CBS; Which usually consists of me sitting on the couch watching Netflix, and thinking of what my camp friends are doing at the moment. I ask myself “If I was at camp right now, what would I be doing?”. I exhaust my friends and family with stories about my camp friends. I say things that I know my camp friends would laugh at, but my family doesn’t even catch. I tell 20 minute long stories that finish with “I guess you had to be there”. It’s hard. It’s hard because every summer I discover a community that can only be found in one place. And that place is 26 miles across the sea away from me.

People have a hard time believing me when I tell them that each summer is different than the last. The people who have been following my ministry at Campus by the Sea probably think the stories are redundant. With each summer comes new friends, growth, and silly stories. I loved this summer for a completely different reason than the last. The growth that took place in my heart was incredible. One thing that made a huge difference was entering the summer with a lot of prayer. Most of you already know that my job looked a lot different this summer. Yes, I was still an elementary teacher, but I was also the Assistant Elementary Director. I knew that I could handle the responsibilities that came with this job, however, I had some worries. Being a leader has never been difficult for me, but being humble while doing it was what I struggled with. My prayer for the summer was not to take control of a team but to really lead a team humbly. Throughout the beginning of the summer I was constantly worried about stepping on people’s toes and making sure that I wasn’t micromanaging certain things. One awesome tradition that the staff has is writing each other encouragement notes on a weekly basis. These itty bitty notes are commonly used to affirm one another throughout the week. It was so awesome to be affirmed as a leader throughout the summer. People’s kind words helped me more than they knew. This reminded me that God was using my friends to answer the prayer that I had been praying since before I even got to the island. All summer we discussed that, as Christians, it is important to spur each other on and the staff did a great job of doing just that. I have never felt more encouraged and affirmed than I did this summer.

Some of you may know that our staff read A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture by David Platt. Each chapter of Platt’s book addresses some of the most pressing social issues of today. He talks about how Christians can take a stand against our culture while using the Bible and a moral compass. Our staff met every Sunday morning to discuss the chapters and talk about how we can learn to address the hard topics that David Platt challenged us with.  For example, near the beginning of the summer, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 States. Of course, Platt wrote about this topic in one of his chapters of his book. It was so refreshing to sit in the room with other believers and talk about ways we can speak truth into our peer’s lives with grace, while using the Bible as our number one reference tool. I have had so many cases where my friends have asked me about certain social issues and how Christians view them. The best I could do was explain to them how we view certain things, but at times I wasn’t able to back it up biblically.  David Platt’s book encouraged me to dive into the Bible and really search for answers. I feel like for the first time in my life I was really craving God’s word.

 Our staff also had the opportunity to study Ephesians. In one of our morning meetings we discussed chapter 6; When Paul writes about putting on the full armor of God in order to stand against the “spiritual forces of evil” (Eph 6:12). We went around to each person at the meeting and had each person talk about which piece of armor we needed the most in the following days. (To reread or refresh your memory of Ephesians 6 click HERE). I am aware that we should put the full armor on, but I have been starting each day thinking of which piece of armor I need most. After reflecting on the summer and looking ahead at the school year, I am aware that even though I am attending a Christian school, I am still facing a hard battle against the evil one. After really seeing what its like to look to the Bible for answers, I’ve decided that the piece I need most is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I challenge you to find time to read through Ephesians and think about which part of the armor you need most entering this new school or work year.

This summer was a very important summer for me; Considering that after it's completion, I would move away from home for the first time. The last few weeks I have been plunged into college and dorm life. Even though there are plenty of opportunities to grow spiritually at the Christian school I attend, it's up to me to take advantage of those opportunities. Not all the people that attend my school love Jesus, or even believe in God for that matter. I have told my family and friends that I have never felt more ready for college because this past summer I have been encouraged so much by my peers and equipped with the truth of God’s word. So here I am at Grand Canyon University, starting a brand new school year at a brand new place with the Sword of the Spirit in my back pocket.

Thank you to my family and friends who prayed for me and supported me throughout my time at Campus by the Sea. And thanks to the amazing staff that I got to work with this summer, I am humbled to have had the opportunity to serve alongside you all.

My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Psalm 25:15