Praise be to God! What a wonderful and beautiful weekend!
I just returned from Steubenville Mid-America (week 2). I hadn't been to the youth conference since I was an intern in 2006, but I'd gone three times prior to that as a teen and Young Apostle. It was such a blessing to see so many of those in my youth ministry family that I hadn't seen for quite some time. It always warms my heart to see those that were a huge part of making me who I am today. In particular to see Greg, my own youth minister, and those that attended the youth group I drove 90 miles to experience in high school. It says alot about a youth minister when years later, so many of his teens are leading groups to the same conference, working with the conference staff, sporting a sister's habit, or playing music for the weekend. I counted more than 10 of us serving the youth of Our Church at this conference.
You want to know a secret? . . . God has a plan . . . yes, I know you already knew that, and it's no secret, haha. But isn't it wonderful to see it in action? It is a great joy to see in retrospect how beautifully that tapestry is woven. This weekend, I didn't see his plan, but I learned in a renewed way how to trust in it.
I will soon be returning to youth ministry, and I couldn't be more thankful and happy that the current chapter of my life will soon be finished. It was a hard one, but I must say, it has made me appreciate the gift it is to lead teens closer to Christ. It's not a chapter I'd wish to re-live, but I appreciate the lessons learned. However, there are some apprehensions and fears as I turn the pages to the next chapter.
At the conference this weekend, God gave me the understanding and graces I need to not see his will, but trust in it. Three things in particular stood out:
1) Matthew 14:23-33 was a constant focus throughout the weekend. Christ again reassured me that if I keep my eyes on Him and not the storm, that I will be able to come out on top, not sinking because of fears.May we all be "ROOTED" in His love! So that when the storms come, our foundation will be strong!
2) That I've "still got it". Yes, this seems ridiculous, but after being away from ministry for months, I feared I may not be easily liked by the teens anymore. Praise God for the many teens I encountered this weekend that allowed me to minister to them in each small way!
3) God showed me that I could face whatever situation I walk into at my new parish by showing me the example of my own youth minister's "success". It seemed that no matter where I sat in the arena, I could see him. And what I saw was a man praising Our Lord with his teens. I am confident that he was praying for them during these times. I saw a man who's heart was wrapped in the heart of Christ. A man that understands that it is impossible to lead teens to Christ without a strong and constant prayer life. I saw teens that loved him because he taught them truth, and teens turned Core members because of the love of Christ they learned from the ministry. Most of all, I saw the faces of leaders throughout the crowd that had been changed by Christ through Greg. That is the kind of minister I want to be. That is the kind of youth minister God needs me to be. And as I take up this yoke, I know He will be there to help me and give me strength along the way.