“I’m going to need that.” I stood next to her bunk and held out my hands for the item.
Tracy continued to lay strewn across her bed nonchalantly carving into the wall with her machete.
“Hand me the knife.” I said more firmly.
“I don’t need to *@# hand you anything.”
“You’ll get it back at the end of the week.” I kept my hand extended.
She ignored me awhile longer and continued carving. Then, finally realizing I wasn’t going anywhere, Tracy narrowed her eyes at me, sat up in bed, and spat out through clenched teeth, “Fine! Whatever!...But I better get it back!”
She stood up, slapped the knife in my hand, and looked down at me for a moment, before loudly pounding her cowboy boots across the floor on her way out.
After I knew for sure she was out of sight, I stared at the knife and let my shoulders sag.
This was going to be even worse than I thought. I was already dreading counseling the sr. high campers that week, as I was only a year older than them.
I knew solidly at that moment that the only way this week was going to turn out well for any of us was if I totally relied on God’s strength and wisdom and sought guidance of more seasoned fellow staff. I leaned my head against an upper bunk and started praying.
As the week progressed, it did not stray much from that initial impression. Most of the girls acted bored and like they knew everything already; several snuck out at night after curfew to meet up with boys; others tried to ditch chapel. Tracy tried to undermine me at every turn and had no problem throwing me under the bus and telling staff and campers what a worthless counselor I was.
Our cabin quickly got a reputation. And it wasn’t a good one.
But, I saw these girls for what they were: crying out for love; needing love that was at once unconditional and yet had boundaries for their own good. The same kind of love that only Jesus Christ can truly give.
I continued on as best I could. I prayed constantly: wisdom for me and soft hearts for them so they might learn what God had for them that week. I sought advise from others. I tried to spend one-on-one time with each and listen to their hearts. I offered insight when appropriate. I prayed with them. And I played with them. When a rainstorm broke one afternoon, I dove into the muddy horse corral and got dirtier than any of them in the pig chasing contest. Standing mud-soaked from head-to-toe we laughed till our sides hurt.
Slowly things started to turn around. I started to see changes in the girls.
I didn’t always get it right. And sometimes there were tears when I was alone and feelings of utter defeat.
I’d always felt pretty self-sufficient, so I learned an invaluable lesson that week: One of the greatest things about following Christ is we don’t have to get it right. It’s not about us. It never is. Christ works regardless. And He loves using the imperfect. It’s how He works best and shines the brightest.
Girls’ hearts were changed that week because of Christ.
And Tracy? Thirty years later, we still keep in touch, and she loves the Lord and follows Him in her own unique cowboy-girl way.
So don’t ever let the lies of the enemy convince you that you can't serve Christ because you are in over your head, flawed and imperfect. That’s just the place where God will use you.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Amazing story of courage and perseverance. One often times never knows who a person touches while being obedient to His calling!