This summer I got the opportunity to serve down in Apalachicola, Florida with a group from my Auburn church home, First Baptist Opelika! Putting those two months into words is challenging, so I’m gonna share some lowlights, highlights and different things the Lord taught me!
So lowlight: I won’t pretend like there weren’t any! I’ll focus on the main one. It was a difficult transition filled with anxiety and distrust. After moving back to Birmingham after my first year at Auburn, then leaving again 1 month later for Florida, it almost felt like jet lag. My mind was unsettled. I’m a big planner and I like for things to happen on a schedule. But the first couple of weeks in Apalach involved less structure than I’m used to, and I had to give up my selfish need for plans. Though I let it be a stressful process, I finally learned to trust the Lord’s plan over my own and to trust that even if I don’t have any plan at all- He STILL has a plan for the day that is unwavering! He wants us to trust Him so much that there is no hint of worry or anxiety in us. That’s why Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” He commands us not to worry, therefore it is a sin to worry! I had to learn that the hard way, and God continues to teach me and remind me of this all the time!
And highlights!: Ok so there are INCREDIBLE things to report from this summer. For one, God was so incredibly faithful to give me a job! I had been praying to get a job at the Piggly Wiggly in town and God answered that loud and clear the first day in Apalach by getting me hired at that exact place! So for 2 months I was a cashier at the grocery store! That is a whole other story full of wonderful, funny, and interesting stories of interactions and embarrassing things I did, like pretending to sing karaoke to my coworkers with the cashier microphone thinking there were no customers watching (I was wrong..!!).
One miracle our team got to experience was that a man we befriended gave his life to Christ! It was such an encouraging thing to witness the light come on in his life that was evident in the way he carried himself and spoke after he became a disciple of Christ!
Another highlight was that the Lord taught me so much about Himself which revealed who I am in Him more fully. He gives me my identity and it is something that nothing else can give. In Him I am free, redeemed, righteous, lavished with never-ending love, mercy, and grace, and on top of all that, I’m given eternal life-all for FREE! He showed me what it means to find identity in HIM alone; not in friends, family, values, morality, comfort, appearance. Those are all good things, but not when I form my life around them or look to them for acceptance and identity! They will only fail me if I try to place my worth in them. Friends disappoint, family isn’t perfect, values and morality can make me forget faith, comfort wavers, and appearance is dictated by magazines and people’s opinions. So I’m very thankful that my identity rests in my unwavering, faithful, perfect God.
And finally, I got to know some wonderful wonderful people. Both in the group I was with and the locals in Apalach. I was with a group of about 15 other college students. 2 of which were our senior leaders and the others were either rising sophomores like me or juniors. We spent several hours each morning together, reading the Bible, sharing our hearts, and praying for each other and for the unreached. It was one of those experiences I will never forget, actually. It felt like true community- like how it will be when all of Christ’s followers will live in Heaven together in perfect unity with each other and with God Himself. I grew to love each person on the trip as I got to know their hearts. Even the people in Apalach touched my heart. Whether my coworkers, the students in the youth group we got to know, or our neighbors across the street, everyone was friendly and receptive to us college students taking over their small town.
I look back on this summer with a thankful heart. The Lord led me to go, and He blessed my time there greatly- through the waters, the rivers, and the fires of day-to-day life. God is faithful and trustworthy and I am excited to see how He will use what He taught me to draw me closer to Him this semester!