By: Tucker Ficklin, CDH10
I used to be an “I don’t want to be here” church kid.
I spent my entire life going to church and just didn’t take any interest in it. It’s not that I hated actually being at church, I just didn’t see the point. I had learned about Noah’s Ark before. Noah’s Ark was the theme of my bedroom when I was a baby for crying out loud. Why did we still have to talk about that guy and his boat when I could just be at home playing my Gameboy or watching Rocket Power?
I was a baptized at the age of seven because that’s what I was told I was supposed to do. I was seven, after all! It was about time I completely understood want it meant to have a relationship with God and how to live my life according to Him! I’m not saying that isn’t possible by any means, but seven year old me was definitely not mature enough or mentally capable to grasp that concept to where I could truly be saved. I didn’t know that Jesus was my Lord and savior; I just knew to answer “yes” when someone asked me if He was.
Fast-forward about 5 years and I’m still the same kid, just in middle school and a little (a lot) more awkward. I’ve gone to two summer camps at this point and hated both of them. It seemed like all church ever did for me was bore me to death or ship me off to camps that encompassed everything that scared me and was outside of my comfort zone. I had friends there and I knew that church was important, but I always felt like doing something else was going to be more beneficial.
The last week of my sixth grade year I came home to a message on the answering machine from the youth pastor at my church, saying that this was my last chance to sign up for youth camp. It seemed like I could have thought of a million things I would rather have done.
I don’t remember what made me decide to go, but I did, and it changed my life forever.
I went into my first youth camp with the most solid game plan a middle school guy could ask for: impress as many people as possible by being completely obnoxious. I succeeded. So much so, in fact, that my youth pastor called me out in the middle of a service to come sit beside her and away from the other youth because I was being so much of a distraction. I expected my “coolness” to get me in trouble at some point during the week, but what I didn’t expect was to experience God for the first time. In those 45 minutes that I wasn’t worried about making an impression or trying to make the girls in my youth group laugh, God showed me how broken I was and how much I needed Him. The goofy, too-cool-for-school kid in the youth group ended up giving his life to Christ that night.
God is funny like that. We think that we have it all figured out and know what we need, but he is always there to remind us that we aren’t the ones in control. For so many years I thought that I was doing it right. So right, in fact, that I felt above the whole God thing. I had figured it out, and I knew the Bible stories and cookie-cutter answers. The rest just ended up being Wednesday night soup suppers and heated business meetings to me. In my attempt to make something that I thought was so juvenile and ridiculous like church camp fun, God knocked me off of my feet and afterwards I looked at nothing the same. Sometimes God has to hit us like a ton of bricks to make us listen.
Trusting God isn’t a lesson that is easily learned. It isn’t as simple as the worship songs sometimes make it seem. If you’re like me, it’s hard to let go and trust God when most of the time you can’t seem to even trust yourself. But that’s the beauty of it – we don’t have to trust ourselves.
After being saved at that camp I became heavily involved in my youth group. We were the definition of tight-knit and did everything together. The kind of friends that just walk into each other’s houses without calling or worrying if they are busy. After that, I went to youth camp consecutively for six years before going to a different camp the summer after my senior year; a camp called Crossroads in a little town that neighbored my own. It was the first time since I was in sixth grade that I didn’t look forward to camp. It was going to be my last year as a camper, I was leaving my youth group, and it was going to be a camp that I had never been to before in a place that was only 20 minutes from my house. But once again, God turned my negativity into something life changing.
God told me that I wasn’t done with youth ministry that week. I was also floored by how awesome the staff at Crossroads was. They were so accessible and genuine, which is not something that you find at every summer camp. I saw how much they cared for the campers and each other, and I wanted to be a part of it.
The summer after my sophomore year of college I finally decided to apply, just in case there was some crazy chance they could use someone like me. I was scared because I’m not the most extroverted person in the world. Constantly being around campers and staffers was something I knew I could do, but not something that would come easily. It would require me to be out of my comfort zone almost every hour of the day. With a little encouragement and a lot of prayer, I finally sat down to fill out the application. I knew I could trust God if I got the job, but I didn’t know if I actually would when the time came. I wondered if the entire summer was just going to be one huge accident.
Fast forward a year, and here I am. I worked on Crossroads’ staff last summer and it was the best summer of my life. God used so many different people and situations to help me grow, and He proved that I could be used where I see myself as useless. Even though I was right about constantly being put out of my comfort zone and it stretching me in all aspects, I was wrong about a lot of things too. I told myself that I wouldn’t relate to any campers or staffers and that I would be miserable the entire time. I told myself that I would say the wrong thing to a camper during advising and set them down some crazy path in life. I was wrong about all of it. Now, God has even opened the door for me to be a part of the Crossroads Discipleship Home and intern with the ministry for a year.
No one likes to be proven wrong, but I have learned time and time again that it is essential to growing in Christ. Our fears, doubts and plans are real. There are times that we all think we know it all. But when we are too focused on what we think is going to happen and what we think we know, we miss opportunities to grow. One of my favorite things about God is that He isn’t afraid to pull the rug out from under us. The plans and visions that we have about the future are what we do as humans to keep ourselves sane – to prepare ourselves for what is ahead. God tells us that there is no point in worrying about those things.
One of the scariest but best things we can ask God is for Him to show us that we aren’t in the driver’s seat. Letting go of the wheel isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I’m still working on it. But I know one thing for sure, every time God has taken the wheel, with or without my permission, something beautiful has come from it. What could God do with your life if you let go?
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it spring forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Tucker is a student at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. This summer will be his second time on summer staff at Crossroads Summer Camp, and he will be participating in the ministry’s CDH program for the 2015-2016 year. Tucker hopes to use his passions for writing and media in a ministry setting upon completing CDH and graduation.
Follow him on Instagram and Twitter: @tucker_ficklin