Off the Beaten Path - Salvation Army Canada

Advertisement


Salvationist.ca | The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda

The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda
View RSS Feed

Archives

  • Mar19Thu

    Off the Beaten Path

    I had my education all mapped out, but God had other plans. March 19, 2015 by Stefanie Collins
    Filed Under:
    Feature
    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.

    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.”

    Leave a Comment