I am one who has had a tendency to worry a lot about everything: my relationship, my academics, my career (these have been a common theme in the past few blog posts…see a trend?). Proud and delighted to say that I worry significantly less about things now than I used to, I can credit my lack of worry now only to an increased trust in God. As I’ve mentioned before, the Lord has made me completely new, and I see a stark difference between the old and new me’s. As far as worrying is concerned, the old me worried herself to death about all kinds of things, failing to ever look to God for peace. Now — living as a new creation in Christ — I trust that the Lord will make clear the paths He has set out very specifically for me. I can tell, however, that when I stray from Christ and spend less time with Him, the things that characterized my old self begin to take root in my life once again, including worry.
Without getting into specific details, I will share that in recent days I humored a recurring worry that the Lord has freed me from, one that I habitually fall back into when I am far from Him. I began working through it and, very gradually, I raised it closer and closer to the Lord, eventually placing it in His hands once again. ***Side note: it is continually mind-blowing to me how God can take something that’s been consuming every portion of our minds for so long and immediately wipe the worry from our minds. It’s quite literally inexplicable, and when an explanation is attempted it sounds trivial. However, I know that it would not — could not — happen outside of God.***
Two nights ago, following my surrender of this particular worry, I asked the Lord to reveal something to me through a dream. It’s a habit I’ve practiced ever since I attended Leadership Retreat with UNC Charlotte’s InterVarsity Chapter where campus pastor Brent Campbell explained it quite simply: “The Lord did not create sleep so that we could be apart from Him. Invite Him into your dreams; ask Him to meet you there.” Sometimes the dreams have meaning that is very obvious, sometimes it is necessary that we ask the Lord for interpretation, sometimes the dreams have no meaning, and sometimes we don’t even have dreams. We just trust that the Lord knows what we’ve asked and that there is a reason for whatever He gives us.
Back to my story. I had a dream that night: Alex (my boyfriend) and I were rowing down a little, slowly-paced river in Florida. We sat face-to-face, my back facing downstream, the four oars divided between the two of us. As we rowed I took in the beautiful surrounding scenery, gazing this way and that, turning to and fro. When I turned to look over my right shoulder, I saw an alligator that reached maybe four feet in length floating in the water (I find this next part to slightly ironic; I think God is just laughing at me at this point. Feel free to laugh along). When my eyes landed on the small alligator and my brain processed what it was, I freaked out. Functioning in a blur of fear and insanity at the mere sight of this slight creature, I somehow began rocking the dingy back and forth, stirring up the previously calm water and, I’m sure, all of its inhabitants. I ended up flailing around so much that I fell out of the boat and into the water in which the disinterested alligator lurked. Soaking wet and still losing my mind, I attempted to clamber up the side of the tiny vessel, soaking Alex in the process. For some reason, though, I never managed to get back in the boat. We both agreed to reconvene on the bank, assessing the situation from there. I swam for my life from the center of the narrow river to the bank, pressing the boat along the same route.
Everything that happened after that is irrelevant to this message. It was this part for which I asked interpretation of the Lord, and boy did He give it. If you’re done laughing at the thought of me being terrified of an alligator, I’d like to share how the Lord spoke to me through that, even though I still don’t understand why He felt it necessary to send the message that way…
God shared some pretty cool relationship advice through it, but more impactful to me was His message about worrying. He told me, “Kerrington, when you worry about ‘what-if’s’ and hypothetical things that may or may not happen in the future — things that pose immediate no threat, like the small alligator minding its own business — you are literally THROWING yourself into the water in which that worry swims.”
That’s applicable to every single one of us. When we give attention to the things that grip us with worry — if you’re reading this and something has come to the forefront of your mind, that is what the Lord is trying to bring up for you — we are literally flinging ourselves from the safety of the boat into the place where that worry lives. If left alone, if our trust is completely in God, then we will be safe aboard the boat. It is when we see the alligator — the worry — and all of the things an alligator has the potential to do that we become so caught up in the potential that we no longer recognize the reality that we are safe in the Lord’s arms.
I will be the first to say that it seems a lot harder than it sounds. Just giving something I’ve been worrying about to the Lord? How is that even done? It takes a lot. Sometimes we feel comfortable in the worry because it’s familiar. Shoot, I’m still trying to figure out what it means to live as a new creation in Christ, too! I carried the former qualities with me for so long that it really is a complete change that I’ve been adjusting to. But when the Lord does free you from this struggle, it will be incredibly rewarding and quite literally freeing. I just want to encourage whoever is reading this to not give up; ask the Lord to free you from this worry. Give it to Him. I know that’s vague, but here are some ways that I have “given _____ to the Lord” in the past, just to make it a little more clear:
Don’t give up praying and asking the Lord to show up in your life because He absolutely will. And I can attest firsthand to the fact that He can and will inexplicably, immediately free you from that which weighs you down most. After He does, it’s your turn to demonstrate your faithfulness to Him by trusting Him over it.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about what any of this means or about how this may apply to your own life.
While I know that I’ve recently been posting about my relationship with the Lord and the things He’s done in my life, I definitely still have a keen interest in animals, nature, and conservation. As I was looking through a brainstormed list of potential blog posts, I ran across one that I loved the idea of sharing! Though the event happened back in 2015, I still remember it like it was yesterday, and I’ve always wanted to write it down. I guess there’s no time like the present!
On May 2nd, 2015, I volunteered at a 5K race called Walk to Cure Arthritis (https://www.arthritis.org/get-involved/walk-to-cure-arthritis/), which was hosted through the Arthritis Foundation. The race was located at the White Water Center, which is a really neat place to hang out for outdoorsy people like myself. My responsibilities included helping set up tents and tables, filling cups and coolers with water, taping the race path. We started setup early in the morning and were there to watch the sun gradually rise over the treetops, revealing more of its rays every few minutes.
Knowing a fairly good amount about animals, it crossed my mind that animals — especially reptiles — enjoy coming out of the woods with the sun. It didn’t occur to me, though, that I’d see anything other than a few lizards, birds, and maybe a rabbit or two. I was later proven wrong.
I don’t remember exactly what time we sent the first flight of runners on their way, but it was sometime around 9:30 I believe. I was stationed at a water cooler where I was tasked with handing out water to those who needed it. A while after the first group was sent off, the group of walkers started their walk. Not long afterwards, as we continued to hand out water, I started hearing a lot of commotion about something on the path. At that moment I tuned my ears to hear more about what they were saying as the word “snake” became more frequently mentioned.
I then distinctly remember hearing one woman say, “There’s a big ole snake over there in the middle of the pathway.” My heart jumped and I put the cup of water I was holding back on the table. Trotting down the gravel path, I looked for either a congregating group of people or the snake they would be staring at. Then I saw a break in the steady flow of people that resembled a rock splitting the path of a stream. Right in the middle was a fairly decent sized snake that I presumed to be a black rat snake: it was the coloration, roundness, and length of the creature that, in combination, led me to believe this.
As even more people began realizing what was there in the pathway, I quickly became alarmed for the snake’s safety. Not wanting it to be trampled, killed, or harassed, I made the decision to catch and relocate the creature. There was only one problem: I’d never caught a snake before, let alone a wild one. Granted, I’d handled different snakes often, including my pet ball python, an assortment of snakes that other people had caught, or ones handled by professionals, but there’s just something different about reaching down at one that could easily — and quickly — bite you.
I shoved all of this aside in my mind, however, and went for it. I figured I knew enough from both observation and common sense that would allow me to safely catch the snake. First reaching for its tail, I tried to gently gesture the snake over towards the brush. He wasn’t having any of it, though, and continued to realign himself so as to face the gravel path. In a few quick footing adjustments I found myself behind the snake, reaching for the back of its head with my right hand. I grasped its neck, but not close enough to the back of its head: in a lightning-fast strike he turned around and bit my hand. Refusing to be deterred, I squeezed my hand a little tighter and slid my hand up closer to its head so as to secure my grip on the writhing snake.
Shocked I stood up straight, snake in hands, people staring. I was smiling bigger than ever; I had just caught my first wild snake! Absolutely elated, I went over to someone and asked them to take my picture (seen below). After showing him off a little bit, I decided that it was about time for me to let him go. I found a pretty secluded brush area and let him go.
I learned something pretty cool during this whole fiasco: no matter how prepared I feel to handle a wild animal, I must never feel too comfortable in any given situation. This lesson was important to me because handling animals is something I hope to do long term; it was a humbling reminder that, though we can be prepared and knowledgable about handling animals, we must always be on our toes. It reminds me of a quote from author Mark Ross: “Around wildlife, ignorance is no excuse,” from his book Dangerous Beauty.
I hope to carry this lesson with me throughout the rest of my life, and I’m super excited to share the story of this encounter with all of you!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
I ran across this verse a couple years ago. After reading it, the first thing I thought was, “Wow. It’s really cool that people get to experience that radical change when they come to Christ.” In my mind, that verse became characterized by this set of thoughts. I knew that people change upon receiving Christ, but I never felt it applicable to my own life, partly because I have always been a Christian. Never did I go through a rebellious stage, nor did I have a prodigal son experience that would require me to be changed — made new — by Christ.
Recently, however, my attitude has been changed and this verse is now something I’ve experienced for myself.
Anyone who has known me for any amount of time has, I’m sure, quickly picked-up on my deep love of animals. I’ve had it all my life, and it has driven me to the point I’m at today. Up until about February of this year I knew I was going to go into wildlife conservation. It only made sense — in this field I could nurture my love of animals while satisfying my desires to work with and protect them. The best part of it all? Limited human contact! You see, as big as my heart was for people, it was exponentially greater for animals. I often told myself, and sometimes other people, “There are enough people out there trying to cure cancer and end world hunger. I need to help save the animals.” I really felt that the call upon my life was to help preserve God’s gift of nature and its inhabitants, educating people and working with animals.
As I mentioned in my previous post, during my spring semester of college the Lord asked many things of me. One of the things He asked me to surrender to Him was the plan I had for my future, the one that included graduate school and working with animals. Surrendering this extremely important part of my life to Him meant that I was 1. putting Him above my greatest desire, and 2. trusting that He was in control of my career and my future, which is very scary for me. Like Abraham did with Isaac in Genesis, I took that which I cherished most up to the mountain as a sacrifice, unsure of whether I would get to carry it back down with me.
That was in February/March. It’s July and ’m still waiting atop the mountain, unsure of whether I’m going into wildlife conservation or not. BUT, God has not been absent.
The thing is, God has radically changed my heart. My heart, which was previously bent towards animals, has been reoriented. Without my asking Him to — like it really would’ve mattered — Jesus began remolding and reshaping my heart in every area of my life (family, academics, relationship, future, etc.).
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed, though, is that I care a WHOLE lot more about people now than I ever have before. Not that I didn’t care about people before…I just cared more about animals. That’s different, now. The following words came out of my mouth just a few months ago:
“The earth is going to die. It’s not going to live forever. The animals are going to die with it. Instead of being worried about that which is going to die anyway, I should focus on helping to save those who have the opportunity to live in eternal life with the Father.”
Woah. Anyone who knows what I’m now calling the old me knows that never ever would I have spoken those words. And it’s not to my credit, either. That word came from the heart of the Father for me. The new me — who I am in Christ — is radically different from the old me in so many ways, but this has to be the major difference. God has literally shown me what it is like to be made NEW in Christ! And my, how refreshing it is. What the Bible says about God — about US — is undeniably true.
Whether I turn out to be a missionary to Africa or the next Steve Irwin is irrelevant to me. I’m incredibly content with knowing that my heart has been realigned, though I didn’t see the adjustment necessary before. What I now have the pleasure of knowing is that I have been made new in Christ, and that He does, just like the Bible says, make new creations out of us.
1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."