As Alan was preparing for this trip, he had to face some things he wasn't expecting & he had a choice to make about trusting God with these things.
The biggest change that concerned him was who was going on the trip, or rather, not going. He found out that his good friend was not going after all, & then that Nathan could no longer go. Considering there was only a handful of other guys going that he barely knew, coupled with the anxiety he feels about leaving home for an extended period of time, this was not good news. In fact, for Alan, this was incredibly hard news. He tried to get some other friends to go, but none of them could for various reasons. He was sincerely worried & anxious about the trip feeling very long without companionship & was wishing he didn't have to go. He could have backed out (if we would have let him), but he didn't consider it. He made a commitment to go & was going to follow it through. I was a proud mom, but felt so badly for him knowing this kind of situation is especially challenging for him.
So, his commitment was set, but that didn't stop the worry of being gone that long from home (he is a homebody for sure) without any family or close friends. Alan doesn't even like to be gone long when the whole family is together. This situation may not bother a lot of people, but to Alan, it was large. It seemed like going on the trip was going to be time lost with friends during a summer that already seemed so short. He hasn't gone on a trip like this before, so it was easy to imagine what he would be missing at home, but not what he would miss if he didn't go on the trip.
We had several long talks in which I reminded him that God had worked out everything up to this point so that he could go on this trip, & the leadership skills he would learn & relationships he would build with others in the youth group were wonderful experiences God was providing him through this.
Then, I asked him, "Are you ready to give your worries to God & trust that whatever He works out will be what ultimately makes you happiest?" He honestly answered that he was afraid God's best for him would not be what he wants. Oh, how I understand that.
God certainly allows things we do not want because it is what we need or it is best for us somehow. It's usually hard to be happy about those things until well after the fact.
We talked about the fact that God had time to still work it out for a friend he was comfortable with to go, even though it seemed impossible with all the things that would have to be done before hand (a physical was needed, as well as supplies, etc.). We talked about how it would certainly stretch him to go without that kind of support & how beneficial that could actually be & how he could choose to be happy with that if that is what it came down to. We talked about how God may have a friend in mind for him on this trip that he just hasn't had a chance to connect with before or maybe even met yet.
Alan & I prayed many times & each time he gave up his will for God's will & asked for the strength to do & learn what God wanted him to through this. He told God he would trust Him to work all things out to what was the best for him. He chose to trust that God cares about his desires, so He would provide for his desires, although it may be in a totally unexpected way. He chose to trust that God may provide for his anxieties and desires in ways we do not recognize immediately as something we want. He chose to trust God for the grace & positive attitude he would need to get through the 10 day trip of hard work & no family or friends. He chose to trust that God would provide new friends through the others that were going. Since he couldn't really see or feel how anything was going to turn to good, it was a true act of discipline & obedience to trust.
However, Alan's natural inclinations to want to stay at home were threatening the peace he had concerning this trip. I felt certain that God still had great things in mind for Alan & all the other kids going on this unique trip, & that satan was doing what he could to keep Alan from it. We prayed, & prayed some more. The morning of the trip, we knew there was no time for anyone to change their mind to go. I could see disappointment in Alan that God had not stepped in to help with this, but his mind was made up to face his anxieties & uncomfortableness & take whatever good he could from the trip. It is so hard to see one of my children struggling with situations that are difficult. It's so very hard to not be able to fix everything for my kids when there is a problem. I had to remind myself & Alan that God loves him even more than I do, & if I want to give good gifts to him, how much more so does God?
Matthew 7:11 ESV: If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Trust & a surrender of desires still had to play a part, though, & I couldn't be more proud of Alan's heart choices.
As we arrived at our church for the take-off, Alan's good friend who was no longer going to Colorado was there to practice his guitar with the worship pastor. He & our worship pastor stuck around for the prayer with the travelers before take-off & good-byes. At the very last minute, our youth pastor asked this friend, "Are sure you don't want to go along? It's going to be great!" And the friend hesitated for a second & then said, "Oh, okay, I guess I'll go " WHAT?!! It turns out his bag was already in the trailer & he was all set to go. Evidently, this friend decided to go just a couple of weeks earlier, but he kept it a secret from Alan. I don't know how he did so with all the persistent, persuasion arguments Alan had been giving him about going, but he & everyone else that knew kept quiet!
The few weeks ahead of the trip were stressful because of this secret, but I am so glad it worked the way it did. As hard as it was to see Alan working through his anxieties, he had a wonderful exercise in trusting the Lord, having the right attitude & frame of mind concerning this challenge, & a wonderful blessing when God showed him answered prayer in the very last second. This will be such a wonderful reminder to him that God is definitely in control, & is not limited. God was answering his prayers all along, Alan just didn't know it or know how. Alan knows by personal experience that we should never doubt God listens to us, & that nothing is impossible for Him, no matter what it looks like to us. God's timing is perfect.