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April 2011 Carrying My Cross By Ansley Dobbs

Last summer I was blessed with the experience of going to FCA Captain’s Camp at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Ga. I had been involved in FCA since middle school, but I had never been to any sort of camp, so I had no idea what the experience would hold.

At the beginning of the weekend, we each received a 2x4 and were told that we were to carry it with us wherever we went. Looking back now, I’m amazed to see what that simple piece of timber would come to mean to me just 48 hours later.

During those brief days of camp, we were pushed to our physical boundaries and really learned about what it meant to rely on God’s strength rather than our own. At the end of the weekend, we all participated in a prayer walk, and it was there that the leaders explained the significance of our timber and that we had been carrying our “cross” around with us all weekend.

That prayer walk changed my life. As I walked and talked to God with my timber over both shoulders, I didn’t speak to Him as if I was talking to some inanimate object. Instead, I spoke to God. I walked with God. But perhaps most importantly, I listened to God.

“I couldn’t go back to school and be the same Ansley Dobbs who had walked the halls before. I had to be more up-front with my faith.”

As I listened, I felt Him nudging me to share His Word at my high school. I heard Him telling me that He loved me more than I could possibly love Him in return. He explained to me that, no matter how many times I sinned or failed, I could never outrun His forgiveness.

In my soul, I also felt that He was giving me a mission. I couldn’t go back to school and be the same Ansley Dobbs who had walked the halls before. I had to be more upfront with my faith. I couldn’t stand back and watch as my fellow students and teammates were oblivious to Jesus Christ.

After camp, I returned home with a new understanding of the Lord. I was curious to see how He would work in my life and on my campus in the coming months.

In preparation for my senior year, one item that remained on my summer to-do list was to get my senior pictures taken. My mom and I spent several days planning the settings and the wardrobe. I had already decided that I wanted one of my pictures to reflect the missions work I’d done, and that’s when my mom suggested that I have a picture taken with my 2x4.

It was the perfect idea. After all, I wanted the picture to serve as an expression of my love for God. As Oswald Chambers said, “If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all.” I realized that I didn’t want to be discreet or even sensible in my love for Jesus. I wanted my love for Him to carry me beyond myself.

Today, my senior picture serves as a powerful reminder of Christ and what He has done for me. And, in the same way, the timber I carried reminds me of how God changed my life that weekend at FCA Captain’s Camp. The portrait shows how I would like others to seeme. I don’t want them to look and see Ansley Dobbs, but to look at my life and see Jesus Christ.

This year, I’m doing my best to live according to the words from John 3:30—a verse God laid on my heart that week at camp: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” And it is my prayer that everyone who goes to FCA Camp this summer would be inspired to do the same.

Ansley Dobbs is a senior at West Hall High School in Oakwood, Ga. She has been a member of FCA since her freshman year and part of the Huddle’s leadership team for the last three, and, outside of FCA, has participated in missions work through Cross Training Sports Camp, Inc. As a varsity soccer player and captain of the cross country team, Dobbs is currently evaluating her post-high school plans.

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