This time last year, I had fairly recently returned from Honduras, and had been attending youth group as the oldest member right up until I left for school. My faith was very strong, and I was very confident about it. I entered the campus ministry group excited to meet new people with similar beliefs and get to learn with them and from them. Campus ministry is starting up again soon, and this time around it's completely different. My faith is pretty vulnerable right now, and it will be harder to come into the group that way. I often wonder why I care so much about this whole mission trip fiasco and why it has affected my faith so much. It was just a 10 day event in my life that can probably be repeated in the future. So why does the pain of not going keep popping up whenever I think I'm finally over it? Why has it become such a barrier between me and the faith I used to have? I have been thinking a lot about that, and here's what I've concluded.
I have been basing my faith on what God let me do, not what He does for me. I'm taking comparative religion this semester (basically because I needed a credit and that was the class that would get it) and If there's one thing I've learned so far it's that Christianity is far less complicated than some of the other world religions. We don't have to perform specific tasks before we die, or remember all sorts of rituals to keep God happy. All we have to do is believe. The reason I bring this up is because I have just now realized that it never really was my faith that grew stronger, it was just my confidence in my own worth. I was using the mission trip as a "step up" in being a better Christian, and that's not how it works in God's eyes. You see, according to what I have been taught and believe, good deeds alone won't get you into heaven. A person who has gone on hundreds of mission trips and a person who serves God from home will go to the same heaven as long as they believe.
When God allowed me to go on a mission trip, I felt useful and important, and that made me more willing to trust him. But as soon as that opportunity was taken away, I realized how fragile my faith really is. It's harder to trust God when he says "No", and I'm not so great at it just yet. But slowly, very slowly, I am learning how to have faith that isn't based on actions. I am having to remind myself that there is only one way to get to heaven, and it's not to go on a certain amount of mission trips or attend a certain number of youth group or campus ministry meetings. As much as I want to return to Honduras because it is such a profound experience for me, I have to accept that maybe that's not God's plan. It hurts me to type those words, but they're true. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm slowly learning that I just have to trust. I know what my destination is in the end, and it's up to God to direct the journey.