For the past 8 weeks, I have been working for Lifeway Students camp called FUGE Camps, more specifically MFuge — or Mission Fuge. This summer has stretched me more than I could ever imagine. Three days a week I took over 20 students and adults to serve in the city of Charleston, while teaching Bible Study every day of camp as well.
The past two weeks of camp were especially stretching. I remember telling one of my friends that it felt like I was just doing “summer camp”; I was teaching Bible study and going to worship, literally hearing about Jesus more than I ever have before, but I wasn’t feeling Him. I wasn’t feeling used. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired.
During the last week of camp, I was praying “Jesus, I need You to reveal yourself to me. I know You’re here…” And a not-so-random Holy Spirit reminded me of this Bible verse…
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. — James 4:8
I realized I wasn’t filling my own cup while I was pouring out to my campers. I was running low on physical and spiritual rest. I was pouring into my kids and praying for them, but not going to God to fill my own cup. I was filling myself up just to pour myself out again.
I was frustrated that I wasn’t seeing any of the fruit God was sowing. Now, I’ve realized the Lord hid that from me on purpose. Any life change that I was privileged to be a part of was hidden from me because that would have justified the way I was living — my state of trying to let camp fill me when I should have been going to God.
Jesus was still using me, but He wanted to show me that it was Him doing the work in people’s lives, not me. That it was a privilege for me to see how He was using me.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” — So only when I truly draw near to the Lord, not camp, not simply praying for my campers — but truly growing closer to the Lord, truly removing every distraction as I draw near to God. Only then, will I see how He is and has been using me.
It was during one of the final services of the summer I realized I wasn’t trusting that I was being used by God. One of my love languages is words of affirmation, and the past couple of weeks, I hadn’t been receiving that affirmation. I was feeling underaprreciated, like the Lord wasn’t using me.
At the same time, I was 1) seeking affirmation from the world, not the Lord, and 2) not even truly spending time in the Word and with the Lord to actually receive that affirmation.
I realized God wasn’t allowing people to affirm me because that would somewhat justify the way I was pouring myself out without truly refilling myself with the Lord.
Each Wednesday night, we had a prayer/worship night, where we guided our campers to different stations where they participated by praying and evaluating different areas of their lives. During the last week of camp, I actually participated in one of the stations with the campers. The station was called the “Trust Wall” featuring various Bible verses about trusting the Lord. Each week, I would instruct my campers to write something they weren’t truly trusting God with on a sticky note.
So — I wrote my distrust down, surrendering it to the Lord, declaring that “I will trust that You’re using me, even if I don’t feel it or receive recognition for it.” After placing the sticky note on the wall, I noticed a Bible verse just above the note.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8
The verse struck me. I realized that I shouldn’t rely on others’ affirmation, but rather take refuge in the Lord, knowing that He called me to camp to use me. It doesn’t matter if other people don’t voice that I’m being used, I need to trust God — not man — that He’s using me for His kingdom.
These two Bible verses, James 4:8 and Psalm 118:8, gave me strength during my last days at camp. I realized God was waiting for me to draw near to Him before He revealed how He had been using me at camp, and that I should trust He is using me, instead of looking to others for affirmation.
What’s incredible is after I realized all of this Wednesday night, the Lord revealed exactly how He had been using me. The affirmation I wasn’t receiving was suddenly all voiced at once over the last few days of camp. I was filled and poured into so much, not by chance, but because I realized that true satisfaction and sense of purpose can only come from the Lord.
This has definitely been an awesome summer working camp. The Lord has taught me so many things, and I’m looking forward to seeing how He’s going to use me over the next year while at school. :) Thanks for listening to this part of my journey!