The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and BermudaView RSS Feed
Mar19ThuI had my education all mapped out, but God had other plans. March 19, 2015 by Stefanie Collins
When I was a kid, I was on fire for God. I loved going to Sunday school and church. But after facing various trials, my faith started to waver and was almost lost completely. As a teenager, I still went to church, but I let the words go right over my head. I felt empty inside, like something was always wrong, and that I needed to fight my battles alone.
- Filed Under:
At university, I started asking a friend a lot of questions about his mission work. I thought doing something to make a difference might make me happier. But instead of a mission trip, he suggested I work at The Salvation Army's Camp Newport in Huntsville, Ont. Looking back, I am so glad I followed his advice. My first summer at camp was lifechanging.
I met so many people who loved God and lived for him. They had so much hope in their lives. I watched and learned from them and soon began to have hope myself. I started to believe that God really could help people and that his presence changed people's lives. I read the Bible often and yearned to learn more from his Word. Many things changed in my life after that summer, but it was still a few years before God's love finally became real to me. When I looked at my new friends from camp, I saw beauty, people who were worthy of God's love. When I looked at myself, I saw someone who had done too much to be forgiven, someone too far gone to deserve his love.
At church one Sunday, the Scripture reading was Philippians 3:12: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (RSV). I realized that God wasn't asking me to be perfect and it didn't matter if I was stained or dirty, because he had called me to be his own. I fell to my knees and told God I finally understood his love didn't have anything to do with my worthiness, but was all about his grace.
Since then, I have been striving to understand God's plan for me. This has not always been a clear or easy task. In my final year of university, I struggled to know what to do next. I felt God leading me to social work and applied for a master's program. Last summer, I got to put my education into action as the community and family ministries worker at Bracebridge Community Church, Ont.
Sometimes the work was difficult. I saw a lot of hurt and pain that was heartbreaking. But, in the midst of it all, I felt God's presence. I saw him in every face that walked through the door of the food bank, in every interaction. God was all around us. For the first time in my life, I felt like a vessel that God was using.
As the summer came to an end, I had a sense of sadness when I thought about returning to school for the second year of my master's degree. Something just didn't feel right about the policy-based specialization and placement I had chosen. I tried to ignore the feeling, to push through it, but it kept getting stronger as classes got underway. After praying and reflecting, I realized the summer had given me a taste of where God was calling me. When I admitted to myself that I had been following my plan—what I thought was admirable—instead of God's plan, it was like a burden was lifted off me.
The next day, I went to school and switched my specialization, my practicum and all of my classes to mental health and health social work. I could feel God gently nudging me and saying that everything would be OK, because he was directing my path and had already gone before me. The strangest thing is I didn't feel scared. I felt comforted.
I would love to say I now know what I'm supposed to do for God, but I can't. I took a big step and now I'm waiting for God to show me where to go next. Although it was difficult to make this change, I can tell you that it was 100 percent worth it, because I know that God is leading me. To quote a song that has been on my heart lately: “I don't know what your plan is, but I know it is good.”