by Bethany Hamilton
I didn't plan on losing my left arm in a shark attack on October 31, 2003. I didn't plan on having to learn to surf all over again, and I certainly didn't plan on becoming famous. I never thought I'd write a book, or throw out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game, or talk to people all over the world who have lost limbs in wars and accidents.
One thing I did plan on doing was whatever God wanted me to do. I wanted my plan to be his plan no matter what. In fact, one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11, talks about the plans God has for those who follow him. God put his plan into action in my life in a dramatic way, yet IÕm thrilled to have any opportunity to tell people about him because sometimes God uses us in small ways too.
One of the challenges I've faced, honestly, is being bold about sharing the gospel. I've been committed to giving glory to God at all times, but it's a little harder to be direct with your family, friends, or a stranger about their relationship with God (or lack thereof). But one of the primary things God has called us to do as followers of him is to spread his love by helping people meet Jesus and become his disciples.
A lot of my friends have moved away and gone off to college or work. As a result, I've kind of lost that tight support group of Christian friends that I had while in junior high and high school. It's been a weird transition because it's easy to rely on others (your friends and family) for spiritual accountability and encouragement. It's definitely been a test for my faith in some ways because when you don't have that safety group, you have to step out and be bold in your faith on your own. Loning it is a lot different than when you have that close group of Christian friends around you. And it has made me really have to understand what I believe and why.
Spiritually, I'd be bummed if I couldn't report growth in the past few years. I have definitely been growing, and not always by choice! Sometimes in life you get forced into a new thing, and it demands spiritual growth, and that's ok. It's great in fact!
The Bible speaks about this in James 1:2-4: "My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need."
Another good passage is Romans 5:3-5: "We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us."
"He'll accomplish more than you could ever ask for or even imagine through your life!"
Maybe you've had something happen in your life you didn't plan on: your parents divorced or someone you loved died. Maybe you've gotten sick or injured or lost your home to a natural disaster such as a hurricane. Guess what? It's all part of God's plan, and he'll use you through it if you're willing.
I would like to encourage everyone never to be afraid to follow Jesus. Prayerfully live your life, dig deep into God's Word, and strap on your surf leash, because you're headed for a life of adventure in Jesus. He'll accomplish more than you could ever ask for or even imagine through your life!