stories about life and God

three days of surprises from God.

to really appreciate my story, you need to hear the story it reminds me of.
one sunday when i was in high school, my friend julia’s birthday was coming up. someone asked her what she was doing for it. she said she was going out to lunch with her mom. and all of us girls listening looked at each other and tried not to laugh, because we knew she was getting even more than that.
little did julia know, that yes her mom was taking her out…but then she’d come home to the surprise party we’d planned for her. she got the good thing she expected, and even more good that she’d had no idea was coming.

God did the same thing to me this weekend.

part 1: what i thought would happen.
my last year as a camper when i was in tenth grade, i heard about this thing called Converge, and i’ve wanted to go ever since then.

but freshman year i didn’t have any friends to go with, then sophomore and junior year i couldn’t go because ciu doesn’t have BCM.

so when cindy asked me on wednesday if i’d want to come with her, for free, to help her promote camp, i jumped at the chance. convincing people why they should apply for the best job in the world, hanging out with hope and other camp friends in between, all at the beach? i’m there!

but oh, the laugh God was having as he watched me pack and tell people i was just going to recruit new staffers and play in the ocean this weekend…he knew he had way bigger plans.

part 2: what actually happened.
the best way to show me you love me is to surprise me. God knows this all too well, and he’s too good at it.

hope and i stepped in the doors and walked down the hallway to set up our booth, and as i looked around at all the other tables that were already there, i realized i had no idea what Converge was.

as it turns out, you hear about missions, a LOT. and God pulls your heart into shapes you didn’t know it could go.

the theme for the weekend was “compassion revolution.” all of the speakers talked about what compassion looks like, and all the different missions organizations there showed us ways to put it into action.
i’ve been calling this a sequel to costa rica. like, “God Turns Linda’s Life Inside Out Part 2.” because between this and costa rica, i am absolutely, completely, irreversibly different than i was even a month ago.

-i understand what missions is.
-i’ve found passions that God has had sitting in my heart for years waiting to be discovered. it isn’t that i never knew i had them; i’ve just been misinterpreting them and chasing them in other directions.
-i’ve seen a sneak preview of God’s plan, and i’m more excited about this than i was in tenth grade when i first saw the trailer for pirates 3.
-i’m far enough down the path of learning to trust God that i can say i’m done turning around and running back to doing things my way.

and of course in addition to all the big life lessons, there was some talking up camp in there.
my condition from the very beginning was “i’ll go, but only if you promise i won’t have to make any kind of speech in front of any number of people.”
if you took all the people i met and “advertised to” over the weekend, put them in a room and told me to get up and tell all of them about camp, i wouldn’t even be able to tell them my name.

i may hate being in front of people, but i love being beside people. on their level, having a conversation about things we love.

so i made up for my refusal to share with a crowd by telling everyone i met instead. waiting in the line for breakfast, riding in an elevator, sitting and waiting for a breakout session to start, walking through the halls on our way to places, hanging out in the lobby late at night…i found people everywhere i went.

and there were SO MANY PEOPLE.

i’m totally using the following story as an example next time anyone tries to call me an introvert.

there were roughly a thousand people at this thing, all in the same hotel. translation: a thousand potential friends, within my reach at any time i felt like it!

imagine: you’re squished in an elevator with 14 people, all of which you’ve never seen or met before. you can’t move two inches. some people would find the situation really awkward, and most people, no matter how they felt about it, would just sit quietly and wait for everyone to get out.

but me? i’ll never pass up an opportunity to make 13 new friends(because one of the 14 was hope), so i break the tension by loudly introducing myself from my back corner behind two tall girls. “hi! i’m linda!” 13 voices reply “hi linda!” a few called out their names, but most just sort of awkwardly laughed like they weren’t sure what to think of me. both reactions made me smile.

and since i’m so good at meeting people, and also good at selling things, it was easy to recruit people: i’d just go places, find random groups to sit with, ask what school they were with, and then they’d ask me the same. which opened the door for me to say, “well i’m actually here with this camp i work at…wanna hear about it?” if, after listening to my excited rant, they were interested rather than scared, i’d bring them to our booth. either way, i’d stay and talk about school and God and what we’d learned in the session we’d just come out of.

i was blessed, encouraged, stretched, and so happily surprised this weekend. not just because of all the big things God taught me, but the little things too. i loved getting to take a break from school and be myself for a few days. i loved having fun conversations about missing costa rica with a girl who i met because she saw the sticker on my water bottle and asked if i’d been there. i loved meeting so many cool people, whether i spent five minutes or half the day with them. i loved getting to be a blessing to our waitress at steak ‘n shake. i loved throwing popcorn for seagulls on the beach, then getting chased all over creation by them. i loved seeing so many of my camp friends, and even one of my campers.
i loved being reminded that God has far bigger plans for me than i ever imagined…and i’ll share more about that later.

he is SO GOOD. =)

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