Tonight, my class celebrated its Junior Ring Ceremony, a milestone in our high school careers and an event that signifies our fast-approaching graduation.
Reflecting upon our past three years together made me realize how truly blessed I am to have the opportunity to be surrounded my friends and family who encourage me on my faith journey. The Holy Spirit truly works through them, both in seen and unseen ways.
I'd like to share a story that I will never forget involving my awesome class. This experience has opened my eyes to the potential every person has to become a vessel of God's comfort, regardless of whether or not they even intend to.
During our class retreat this year, I gave the first student witness involving our retreat's theme, freedom. It was the first time I had spoken to a large crowd with just an outline. It was the first time I had spoken about my faith to a large crowd with just an outline. And, scariest of all, it was the first time I had spoken to my classmates about my faith with just an outline. There were quite a few “firsts” involved.
The entire morning before my talk, I was filled with anxiety. Right before I went on stage, I was literally shaking and shivering. I was so scared that I would freeze or lose my place or ramble.
When I walked up onto the stage to begin my talk, Jason, the leader of our retreat, asked every member of my class to extend their hands and pray for me. He led them in the prayer, asking God to give me courage and to speak through me. At first, I was too nervous to really pay attention to what was going on. I doubted the prayer would have any effect on my delivery. I expected that everyone thought it was a tad weird to hold their hands out toward me. But then, I looked up from the stage and saw all of my classmates with their arms outstretched in prayer toward me. I can't even begin to describe the feeling this brought me. The fact that they were actually praying for me to do well made me smile.
Before I knew it, I was speaking. I stopped shaking. I stopped shivering. The words I had been so anxious about simply flowed from my mouth. Maybe it looked different from the audience, but at least from the stage, I felt like all my nerves were gone. And the funny thing was that I remember clearly the delivery of this speech. I've participated in a few talent shows in my day, and whenever I get up on stage, I'm so nervous that my performance is a complete blur in retrospect. This was different. This was an incredible sense of peace and clarity. As soon as I exited the stage, the shivering and shaking started up again. But on that stage, with my peers looking up at me with kind faces, I felt unexpectedly at ease. I have no doubt in my mind that it was the result of my classmates' prayers. Even if only one person in the entire audience was actually praying for me, I know that it helped. I felt the inexplicable peace that only God can provide.
This experience revealed to me just one tiny way God comforts us: through our friends and families. The Spirit is work at us all the time! We are God's hands and feet in this world. Sometimes, it's the things that go unnoticed: the private prayers, the random acts of anonymous kindness. And sometimes it's clear and spectacular, like looking up and seeing 200 girls praying for you!
The people we meet each day, whether we realize it or not, have a direct influence on our lives. If we surround ourselves by those who love us, thousands of doors will be opened to us. Such relationships not only allow us to receive genuine love, but also teach us how to give genuine love. And learning to give and receive love teaches us about the greatest love of all: God's love for each of us.
Every person on this earth has the potential to both give and receive God's love. Maybe He is trying to speak to you through another at this very moment. Or perhaps He is instead attempting to use you to reach out to others. No matter what, He is at work in your life at this very instant. Will you be open to Him? When He knocks on your door, will you answer?
Because He created every person, God lives in each one of us. In both subtle and obvious ways, He uses His creations--our friends, families, and even strangers--to get through to us. We can be vessels for His love. We can spread His light to all the world.
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12).
Thanks to all my friends, family, and random strangers for encouraging me on my journey toward Christ!