See Ya Later, Alligators
I’ve been putting off writing this post for quite some time now, partially because my brain completely shut-down with the end of school! I just wanted to take the opportunity to use this post to share a really cool thing that the Lord has done in my life, so here we go!
Back in November I had the opportunity to accept an internship with a Texas alligator rescue called Gator Country. I was elated to have been offered this internship, as it seemed that in a short 7 months my lifelong dream of handling and working with alligators would become a reality. Anxiously I waited, allowing the anticipation of my summer to motivate and drive me through the remaining duration of my first semester at UNCC.
VERY long story short, my second semester of college did not go the way I anticipated. The things that motivated me and got me through both my senior year of high school and the first semester of college no longer affected me in the same ways. Conservation, animals, and Africa all seemed much less important to me than they did before, and I found myself struggling to foster any type of motivation or drive for school or for the achievement of my dreams. I was scared of what was happening; everything that I had longed for my entire life seemed to be rapidly slipping from my grasp.
And then Jesus showed up.
After sharing my dilemma with Brent Campbell, campus pastor of UNCC’s InterVarsity Chapter and close friend, he shared with me that these were signs of an idol being torn down. I was initially reluctant to believe that I had done this, that I had created an idol out of my God-given dream. I’ve always known that this gift was from God, I thought, and I’ve always kept the focus on Him. Turns out, however, that I was more in love with the gift than the gift-giver Himself.
Between February and May of 2018 I grew a lot in my personal relationship with God. He took so many things away, freeing me from bondages in which I didn’t even realize I was entrapped. He proved to me firsthand that He is trustworthy in every area of my life, including my family, my academics, my preference to be in control of situations, my relationship with Alex, and, most significantly, my future. God asked me to do things that were hard, but the results of the obedience were more rewarding than anything I could’ve done for myself.
After a few months of being asked to give up important things for God, I was in the best place with Him that I’d ever been in. And then on Saturday, April 29, 2018, at 12:27 in the morning, I was reading Brendan Manning’s book Abba’s Child. Out of the blue I heard the Lord say, “Don’t go to Texas.”
Excuse me? I couldn’t understand why He was asking this of me. As a matter of fact, He wasn’t even really asking; He TOLD me not to go. Naturally, I asked why. And, as He so often does, the Lord gave me several reasons that I shouldn’t go to the 3-month internship of my dreams:
6. He wants me to be an example of faith and what it’s like for someone to give
something up for Him simply because He says so.
I sat at the desk in my dorm room, shocked that God had asked this of me. I was arguably more shocked at the readiness with which I was answered. This was no joke. I went to bed, teary-eyed at even the idea that I might be giving this opportunity up.
Sunday morning I woke up foggy-headed and hoping that the previous night had been a dream. I convinced myself that it was just a test of faith, that God just wanted to make sure I’d be willing to give it up. Then I could go! Double-checking with my mentor Kennedy, I asked her to listen for me to see if God had anything else to say. She said, “Kerrington, the Lord doesn’t have anything for me. He needs you to trust Him.”
I listened again that night as I was spending time with the Lord. “Don’t go to Gator Country,” I heard Him say, this time more specifically. I sighed, knowing that my decision was made.
The next morning I made some hard phone calls, the least of which I wanted to make to my Papa. We planned to spend the whole summer together while I was in Texas, and I was very much scared of having to tell him that I wouldn’t be coming. When I finally called him, the first thing he asked, as I knew it would be, was, “When are you getting out here?” After I explained to him that the Lord told me not to go, Papa was silent for a second. Then he told me, “I already knew that. The Lord told me three weeks ago that you weren’t coming. I was just waiting for you to hear from Him about it.”
My jaw dropped to the floor and my eyes teared up simultaneously. It was so comforting to have confirmation from the Lord through my Papa’s words. I felt significantly better after we’d had that conversation, and I was even more confident in my decision to be obedient to the Lord. I can’t say that it’s been easy since I gave that internship up; I’ve wrestled with God about it. I was so ready to go on that grand adventure — or at least I thought I was. God knew that I have a lot more areas to grow in before I'm ready to be spiritually independent.
The things the Lord has revealed to me since that night have been incredibly eye-opening. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the first six months of 2018 is that God is a jealous God, and when things are put above Him in our hearts He will take those things away to demonstrate that He is truly the ONLY steadfast, unchanging thing in our lives. For so long I put my trust and identity in my future career of wildlife conservation, convinced that I would at least always have animals. God proved me wrong, though, and I couldn’t be more thankful that He did.
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1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."