Taking Thoughts Captive: A Small Group Leader’s Story
Thirty-one-year-old Cullen Nance has been attending College Park Church for almost seven years with his wife, Danelle. Cullen became a believer in his early twenties when a friend asked him to be a leader at a Young Life camp. It sounded fun and he accepted, completely unaware he would be required to disciple high school students. He learned of the requirement the day before camp started, but thinking it was too late to back out, he went to camp anyway. Many times, throughout the week he heard the powerful phrase, “God has you here for a reason.” God worked on his heart and he soon realized he needed the gospel.
For Cullen, the best seasons of life have been with his wife. He has the highest esteem for her and feels truly blessed to have her, especially after his own childhood was surrounded by unhealthy marriages. Some of Cullen’s hardest times have been without his wife. Before Danelle, he struggled with his intentions with women and was often frustrated with God for not granting his desires.
God has grown him through that struggle and now, he and Danelle are in the process of adopting a child—something that has continued the sanctification process for Cullen. In it, God has affirmed many truths Cullen knew in his heart but hadn’t trusted in his life. He has been convicted and reminded over and over that God is in control. He has learned that in everything—his work, Small Group, and marriage—he must take his thoughts captive and turn to God.
But control and structure seem so appealing—for Cullen and for many of us. After growing up in a very unstructured household, Cullen values structure in his own life. However, it has proved challenging for him to not expect this same structure from other people. Cullen recognizes his expectations are unfair and derive from his desire for control–a theme he sees clearly throughout his life.
God has used this struggle to confront him with many good challenges. Being in a Small Group with different backgrounds and personalities has taught Cullen to trust the Holy Spirit’s work in people’s lives. Humans are messy, but God has proven to Cullen the powerful work he can do in and through them. Cullen is often reminded of this truth through Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
God promises good plans and prosperity for his children. He doesn’t guarantee riches and prosperity on earth, but rather, joy in the promise of a heavenly future with him.