It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I wrote my devotional “Love Never Fails”. In those two years, my life has completely changed. When I wrote this as a junior in high school, I had no idea what God had planned for me. I didn’t know that only a year later I would be accepted into my dream school. I didn’t know how hard it would be to leave my family and friends and embark on a new path in life. I didn’t know the excitement and anticipation I would be filled with as I began this new journey. I certainly didn’t know how hard college would be, but I also didn’t know how much I would grow to love my new home.
Most significantly, though, I did not know how well the words of my devotional would resonate with me all these months later, perhaps even more than they did the first time I wrote them. I am no longer in the authority role at the preschool in my life; instead, I am in the preschoolers’ shoes. When my parents dropped me off at my dorm before school started, I knew that they wouldn’t be coming back to pick me up at the end of the day. I knew that I was, for all intents and purposes, on my own in this new journey of my life. For the first couple of days, and even weeks, I struggled with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and despair as I tried to navigate a world I was completely unfamiliar with. I let myself forget the words that I written about not that long ago: love never fails.
Looking back on those first few weeks, I realize now that when I thought I was completely alone, I wasn’t. I had God’s love protecting and strengthening me even in my worst moments. God was there in the little victories of the first few weeks. He was there in the beautiful roses blooming on my walks to the store. He was there in the chance meetings which turned into friendships. Most importantly though, God was there in my heart, the little voice encouraging me to go talk to those new people, to try out a different activity, to keep putting myself out there even when I felt scared.
We all forget that we aren’t alone sometimes. When things are new, scary, confusing, and just downright hard, it is difficult to feel like anyone is looking out for us. It is easy to focus on the negatives, to turn inwards and let ourselves forget that we are loved. But we are loved: we always have been loved, and we always will be loved. God won’t leave us or abandon us, and God certainly will never stop loving us.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that our paths will be without hardship. In this life, we are not guaranteed smooth sailing. I know that I am just at the beginning, and there are many more trying times in my future. But it is these moments of darkness and despair that allow God’s light to shine most brightly. And when we overcome these trials, which we will, the light of our hearts will shine even more clearly with the fire of God’s love.
"Discovery Weekend (The Upper Room spiritual formation weekend experience for middle schoolers) is a breath of fresh air for the youth ministry in local churches. I was impressed with the way it invited both spiritual maturity and committed leadership from our older youth as they served. Of course, our younger youth received so much as well."