If you ran into me today in NYC, you’d say: “Wow, Caralyn. You look like you’ve been hit by a bus!”
And you’d be absolutely right.
Because you see, last night…minus a 2.5 hour power nap…I pulled an all-nighter.
I had planned on using this weekend to catch up on some timely writing jobs that were due this morning….But when my very best friend unexpectedly got her heart broken this weekend, all plans went out the window, and I began — roughly 12 hours worth of work on Sunday evening around 10pm. Due Monday morning at 10am sharp.
But you know what, it was worth it, because she’s my rock and we’ve been through so much together, and her friendship is worth a cruddy night sleep.
But that is not the point of this post.
One of the jobs that I do, is I am an in-house writer for a faith-based, non-profit organization called FOCUS – which stands for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. And their mission is to send recent college graduate “missionaries” out into college campuses, and through authentic, genuine friendships, help students encounter Jesus in a real, authentic and personal way.
It really is an amazing organization. I benefitted from it greatly in college. And their mission to set the world on fire for Christ, is truly incredible. But again…not the point of this post.
One of the assignments I had this weekend, was to edit the new campus missionaries’ “introduction” videos that will be on their website.
Now, FOCUS is on over 180 college campuses nation-wide, and has over 800 missionaries. So little old me was editing some 50+ introduction videos into the wee hours of the morning.
And I’ve got to say — though I was bleary eyed, and exhausted, and though I felt — and looked — like a zombie all day today — listening to those young 20-somethings’ testimonies about why they’re giving up everything to follow Christ and work as a missionary in such a secular wasteland that is the college campus, it was actually a bright spot in my weekend.
I was so inspired.
And there was one phrase that I kept hearing over and over and over again– and that was citing how Jesus “radically transformed” their heart.
Nearly every single young person, shared how their hearts and lives were radically transformed when they had a personal encounter with Jesus — so much so, that they would hold off on beginning their careers, and work without a salary as a missionary.
But here’s the thing that was so incredible….how did all these radical transformations come about? How did they experience a personal encounter with Christ? Through the friendship of a FOCUS missionary who had befriended them on campus.
Through a personal, one-on-one relationship where someone invests in you.
What an amazing thing.
And it holds so incredibly true. For me, too! My “radical transformation” really came when I was at inpatient, and my Christian therapist — in a one-on-one relationship, investing in me everyday for those three months — led me to a life-changing encounter with Jesus that was truly radical. Radical to the point that I gave up an eating disorder that nearly killed me. Radical to the point that I told the truth about all the deception and deceit in my life. Radical to the point that, for the first time in my life, I knew that I was fully loved, despite my eating disorder, and my short comings, and my flaws.
And those young adults whose videos I edited, experienced that life changing love, too. And they were doing something about it.
This one young man summed it up, perfectly.
He said, life can be boiled down to one little phrase: Be His instrument.
Be His instrument.
So simple, and yet so profound. And so life altering and — dare I say, radical!
That’s the thing about truly encountering Christ — His love changes you. There’s no way for it not to. Because it’s as though all of a sudden the veil is lifted, and life becomes crystal clear. You see what truly matters, and that is: getting to Heaven, and bringing as many people with you as possible.
So. Those are just my sleep deprived thoughts. I was so moved to see the fire that was alive in these courageous young people.
Yes, we’re in a pandemic. Yes, everything about college is built to beat the faith right out of you. Yes, living a Christ-centered life is about as radically counter-cultural as you can get, right about now. But these young people are out there giving their lives in service to Him.
It was profoundly impactful. And these videos are just a little reminder that they’re not alone in their efforts. There is a community behind them, cheering them on, and praying for their ministry.
So to close, I’d like to just pray for those brave men and women who have answered the call to serve Jesus on the college campus. Lord, strengthen their hearts as they face unprecedented obstacles and resistance, from a secular culture that has fully rejected God, His teachings, and His love. Cover them with your grace and whisper your gentle encouragement in their hearts, as they seek to bring Your light to the darkness, and change the world!
For more information about FOCUS, click here. This is in no way sponsored. I just fully believe in this organization, and wanted to share about a very inspiring episode I had in the wee hours of the morning!
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81 responses to “Be His Instrument”
One prayer I make – not often enough – is for God to use me somehow in His kingdom. I hope my writing helps. I hope telling a single mother at a restaurant how well-behaved her kids are helps. I hope holding a door for someone helps. I hope things I’m not even aware of doing help.
Sometimes, maybe most of the time we’ll never know what impact we have for God’s kingdom. But FOCUS shows us that knowing isn’t what’s important. It’s doing! That mother and daughter that listened to you on live stream from CTK you found out about, but how many more were you God’s instrument for that you’ll never know about? It’s about faith that God will use us as He wills, if we just open ourselves to Him.
BTW – I sent you a recap of our dinner with the Knapps. Just so you know it’s there in what I’m sure is a very full inbox! 2.5 hours never went so fast!!
Hi Jeff! I love that prayer – it really is the key to a beautiful life. You’re right – God is always using us, and most of the time we will never know the ramifications. He is so good like that. And yes!! i read your email this mornign — one word: WOW!!! Thank you for that wonderful recap. it really set my entire day off to a beautiful and peaceful start. have an awesome day, my friend! Hugs and love to you and your girls!
“Be His instrument.” What a powerful thought! Thank you, Caralyn. Now, get some rest!
Thank you so much David! hahaha — yes! I got a full 10 hours last night! Hallelujah!!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox
Wow, what a day. Thank you for being part of such an important aspect of the Catholic Church. Helping, especially young adults, is vital to all of us.
THanks HJ – yes, what a day indeed! it was like I was in a vortex! and thanks for saying that 🙂 i agree – i love what FOCUS stands for! Hugs and love xox
Caralyn, you are the truest friend any friend could have. lovely post! 😊
oh my gosh thank you John, you’re kind to say that. she would have done the same for me 🙂 have a great day! Hugs and love xox
—-This was the sentence that stuck out like a lightening flash! ‘listening to those young 20-somethings’ testimonies about why they’re giving up everything to follow Christ and work as a missionary in such a secular wasteland that is the college campus.’
Thanks for the reminder that we —America— have now become the mission field. It helps my perspective.
thank you so much Amy – you’re absolutely right – if we want to go on mission, we needn’t look further than our own backyard. Sad, but true. This world needs His light! have a great day! Hugs and love xox
Wow. Too amazing Caralyn. You are that shining star. I think those with your strong faith are brave and tough. You have to be to overcome the obstacles you endured. That’s true dedication to your friend and commitment to Jesus.
Thank you so much Derek! oh my gosh you’re too kind. Jesus has seen me through a lot, so the least I can do is love Him in return! Hugs and love xox
You pulled an all nighter and still managed to write a post!! Encouraged by the young missionaries you mentioned. God is still working and He’s transforming lives.
Love your upbeat spirit!! Hope you get some good sleep tonight.
Hi friend! hahah thank you so much – yeah, God really helped me put some words on the page tonight, to be honest! It flowed like water, for some reason tonight! hahah and yes! I got a full 10 hours of sleep last night! Hallelujah! Hugs and love xox
What don’t you do? You bring the light to darkness everday. I’m in awe of your perpetual, on top of everything sparkle. And you’re a lean, mean, writing machine. As an instrument of Jesus, you’ve never uttered a false, flat, dullard note in my book. I hear nothing but strumming magic all the way. Happy to know your friend has a such cool, loving, rock solider in you.
Thank you so much Michael – oh my gosh you’re too kind! thank you for saying that. hahahahhaha a writing machine, i like that. Thank you for such generous words, my friend. I am serisouly so touched. thanks for starting my day with a smile! Hugs and love xox
You your Caralynness a truly an instrument be put to great use. Me people like you are needed in the world today.
oh my gosh thank you JB – people are needed like YOU too! you always bring a smile to my face! Hugs and love xox
You are very graciously welcome your Caralynness. You look more beautiful when you smile.
xox thank you
You are welcome.
Well when I look at the picture on this post I would say- Wow Caralyn your smile shows through your eyes even though the mask covers your smile
awwww, you’re too kind – thank you! isn’t it wild how — because of masks — the eyes have become such a powerful communication tool?! Hsve an awesome day! Hugs and love xox
You’re a wonderful friend! And thank you for this reminder of being His instrument.
Thank you so much Diana! She would have done the same for me! 🙂 hope you have a beautiful day! Hugs and love xox
You’re utmost welcome and it was a lovely day, thank you! Here’s to a great weekend! God’s peace. 💙
A lovely post. It is indeed love and friendship which wins hearts and souls. I was reminded that one branch of my family is Huguenot. Many Huguenot fled France in order to maintain their beliefs. Love in the end achieved what religious persecution could not. One marriage in their new homeland led that particular branch of my family to change religion anyway.
thank you so much! You’re so right – friendship is such a beautiful thing – and life changing thing. And thank you for sharing your family’s history. that is such a powerful story. you’re right – love is the most powerful force in the world! have a wonderful day!! Hugs and love xox
What a beautiful post, Caralyn. I have not done an all-nighter in a *long* while. 🙂
I agree, the importance of friendships… (and of God moving as the wind, through and despite the university)
The testimonies sound remarkable, and encouraging…
I appreciate your closing prayer… and which resonates with me –
Thank you so much David. Yes – friendship is so powerful! glad it resonated with you!Hugs and love xox
I believe through your gifted writing, He has made you an instrument for Him. It is beautiful to behold and a joy to partake of. Please keep writing. God bless you, beautiful friend, and love you as always. Hugs!XO😄❤
Hi Tonya! oh my gosh i am seriously so touched by that! what an incredibly kind thing to say. thank you. God is always using us in ways we oftentimes don’t even know! Thank you for being such a bright spot in my life. Every time I see your name pop up on my screen, it brings a huge smile to my face! have a beautiful day, my friend. Love you! xoxo
[…] Be His Instrument […]
and thank you for the link up! 🙂 xoxoxox
Love this for so many reasons … one of them being that I worked in college ministry for a number of years … one of the most rewarding seasons of my life. Thanks for these sweet insights!
Thank you so much Shelly! oh wow – what powerful work that was. I can only imagine the number of hearts you changed and lives you brightened!! Hugs and love xox
We bring light into the darkness. I am always fascinated by young 20-somethings sold out to Christ given all the distractions that comes with the age.
And I hope your friend gets better.
You are a great friend and a blessed instrument. God bless you!
Thank you so much! isn’t it so inspiring to see?? and gosh, i appreciate you saying that! Hugs and love xox
That’s pretty much how it happened with me.
that’s amazing, Greg. I’m so happy to hear that. God is good. Hugs and love xox
This is rather exciting! Karen and I have been ‘friendship missionaries’ in Cape Town, South Africa for many years, between 2003 and 2020, since our return from Pretoria side of the country. Karen walked about five thousand miles on foot per year, to reach her direct customers, and along the way, she would befriend young people. Many young people came to the big city, running away from home. Soon, the starry-eyed hopefuls would be disillusioned and despondent. Then she’d ‘play mother’ and ‘adopt’ them. And bring me into the new friendships, whenever I was strong enough to walk. At one stage, we had 105 late teens/young adults, who had called us ‘Mom & Dad.’ We went out the Luke 10 way, with just nothing but a few personal effects. It was extreme hardship which ended in May this year, as a friend ‘collected’ us and moved us to a large town an hour’s drive from the city. But we are doing our friendship ministry thingy all over again. I often went without sleep, maybe a cat nap for ten minutes here or twenty minutes there; I am my own sleeping disorder. We do this despite the most acute lack and austerity except for one American friend that had twice sent us $25 now on Paypal; otherwise we must find an income despite my disability and the fact that white men in this country can’t even apply for jobs; that’s what happens when libtard socialists get to rule. Vote the Antichrist communists into power and this happens; America, beware. Thank God for the POTUS you have, the former one divided your nation. The Kingdom of Christ is at the mercy of the ballot box and it does affect our lives even across the Atlantic. Are we for Christ, or do we feed his foes? I feed the lost with spiritual food, doing so while more fortunate people comfortly watch the ball game or splurge on expensive leisure – while we go unpaid, undernourished, over tired and unseen. But we manage to befriend people; I have led 37 American teens to Jesus using a tiny clamshell Nokia 2760 with the bare minimum data, as I couldn’t afford more. There is no excuse to arrive with empty hands at heaven’s door.
Hi friend, thank you for sharing that. oh wow — what a powerful life you and Karen have lived! Friendship missionaries — i absolutely love that idea. You are changing lives! i am so inspired by your work!!! will be praying for your ministry!! Hugs and love xox
Thanks for sharing, it lifted my day
thanks so much Suzie! I’m so glad this resonated with you! Hugs and love xox
Lovely post. I actually converted to the Catholic Faith, from “nuthin’ in particular,” while at a secular university. Hurrah for the lovely people who befriended me, and showed me the sweet face of Christ.
By the way, have you seen the crowdfunded series “The Chosen” about Jesus and the apostles? I was skeptical at first but I’ve really come to love it. Our Lord is portrayed in such a human, down to earth, approachable and lovable way, and it’s really neat to witness the backstory of so many familiar gospel scenes in a way that truly brings them to life. Even my sarcastic teenagers (where do they get it!? 😏) like it a lot.
You can see it on YouTube or Facebook (no adds that way) or you can download the free app. Definitely worth checking out!
God bless, and I hope you get a big nap soon! Xoxo
thank you so much Anna for sharing your story! that is so amazing. there is power in friendship, that is for sure! i have not seen The Chosen but it sounds absolutely fascinating!! i will definitely check it out on YouTube! So amazing the work that is being done for the Kingdom – much of which on a shoestring budget! hahah yes – i got a full 10 hours of sleep last night! hallelujah! 🙂 Hugs and love xox
What a wonderful witness to the truth. Amen.
thank you so much Penny – I agree. I was so moved by their boldness for Christ! Hugs and love xox
We are God’s partners and partners are entitled to rewards even in business partnership. May God continue to engrace the vibrant foot soldiers of Christ for promoting His kingdom!
Thank you so much Chris for sharing your heart on this. i so agree – we are His partner in growing His Kingdom! Hugs and love xox
That’s how I came to the Lord.
A friend of mine from a college organization would spend a lot of time talking to me about Jesus Christ. He was simply answering my questions.
A friend of his invited me to see a Josh McDowell movie.
They didn’t know much about leading someone to the Lord, but at least they did what they knew how.
Even though this life is no more than a breath, it was a while ago.
That’s so beuatiful!!! thank you for sharing that. there is so much power in friendship. and i think in a personal, intentional relationship like that, we can truly feel Jesus’ love in a life changing way! i’m so happy for you! Hugs and love xox
Yes! We are His hands and feet to the rest of the world. Blessings!
thank you so much Lea! You’re aboslutely right! we’re His hands and feet, and together one body of Christ! have a beautiful day! Hugs and love xox
I am so sorry that your experience of college left you believing that “everything about college is built to beat the faith right out of you.” I had the opposite experience and am so grateful for my faith-building time in college.
thank you so much Madeline for sharing your heart – i’m so glad that college was an enriching experience for you! that’s so wonderful!! I pray that more people have experiences like yours!!!! have a wonderful day! Hugs and love xox
I love the thoughts about radical transformation. It’s not something we can work toward or conjure up. Only God can truly change us. And a genuine encounter with Jesus is what does it. I am praying for more of that – in myself, yes, but also in people who desperately need the kind of radical change only Jesus can bring.
thank you Beverly! yes! His love is radically transformative, that’s for sure! i agree – when we have a genuine encounter with Jesus, it changes things! Hugs and love xox
I had a high school religion teacher who would challenge us each and every day to “keep the faith.” But he also took it one step further, saying, “Don’t just keep the faith, SHARE it.” You do so well at this. I admire you for your faith and commitment to it. Love reading your posts! Keep up the good work, I’m sure you have touched many, many people through it.
don’t just keep the faith, share it. oh wow – i absolutely love that. thank you so much for sharing that beautiful tid bit! Hugs and love xox
Thank you so much Teresa!! 🙂 glad you thought so! have a great day! Hugs and love xox
Thanks for this. We were writing a letter to our congregation about stewardship, attendance, blah, blah, blah, but mostly about how we are stewards of what we have been given when we *love* like Jesus. I quoted several paragraphs from this blog about how friendship is transformational. You said it so well, and it fit with what I have been writing to our congregation about reaching out to our neighbors and *being* Jesus that I just used your words (and gave you credit). Thanks again.
thank you so much! that’s so amazing! i appreciate it. Hugs and love xox
Really good: to the point, Caralyn!
thank you so much! Hugs and love xox
Great post. 🙂
thank you Amanda! i’m glad you thought so!i hope you’re having a great week so far! Hugs and love xox
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation, will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Abraham Lincoln
thank you so much for sharing that powerful quote. so much truth there! Hugs and love xox
Hi Caralyn! My WordPress is a bit glitchy, so I commented here further back. I want to thank you for your guidance, on love, and life, just like this, and it’s helped, the grace, and kindness, and I wish you well on your journey home to Iowa. And also, that the Gentleman is chivalrous, kind and polite and sociable. It’s not easy, these days, in young men anywhere in the world. A lost generation really. I am exceptional, here in New Delhi, but alone basically, minus some coleman barks Rumi style love, since 20 etc. Lived in Thailand too. No dice. But now, I too might be getting married, and it’s like a shock. But some South Asian magic. Manhattan, a bedrock for everything you know, or New York if you prefer. God bless. May we find each other. I’m awkward on insta. Just like this is better. I’m sorry, but I thought of you as some Empress Theodara of Byzantium but living, but we’ve both sort of moved on, me not so much. Do drop by sometimes, on my wordrpess etc. Still the same person who wrote about ‘beauty’ and attracted your attention for a few minutes 3 years ago. God bless 🙂
All good! Thanks so much, friend. Your words are kind and generous. Hugs and love xox
Excellent post – thank you very much!
Thank you so much! Hugs and love xox
Great article – inspiring. Wherever we are, with whatever we are given – be His instrument. Amen
thank you so much! you’re right! we can always be used by Him! Hugs and love xox
Great job! Keep it up!
Thank you so much!! Hugs and love xox