I love camp. This is one of the first times I have actually been able to say that in the midst of being here. Usually it is not until retrospect that I admit my feelings of fondness for this place. You know how sentiment is. I guess there is a lot of truth to the fact that when you love something you do not always have to like it. Camp has always been the place where, as I say, the rubber of my theology meets the road of life. While each summer at camp has taught me many things, it is more through experience here than what it is academic or intellectual. Needless to say I am learning a lot this summer. As far as summers go and if you held a gun to my head and make me choose, I would say this has by far been my best. Never before have I been able to serve at this place so spiritually and mentally with it. To you that may sound like a bunch of spiritual B.S., but I have served here in just as many dark seasons as I have light. This year has definitely been a good season and I have been able to fully contribute my abilities and gifts in ways I never imagined I would here. Each summer there seems to be a continuation of themes I see in my life and in what God wants to teach me. This summer there have been four areas in which the Lord has been transforming my thinking and ultimately my action.
One of the first areas in which God has challenged me this summer has been in the area of teaching. More and more my desire to teach the Bible grows, and this year at camp has only stoked that flame further. So far I have been given many opportunities to teach staff and campers alike about the Bible and how to study it. It was not until Senior High Camp when my heart was dramatically hit. As I taught each session I continued to see the depth of Biblical illiteracy, and how vacant the Word of God was in those young people’s lives. And we wonder why so many of them leave the church when they enter college! Genuine, deep, meaningful, intentional study of God’s Word is completely absent in the lives of these young people, in a time when they NEED it most! Pop culture has become more of a belief system for most than what Christianity is. As I have continued to teach this summer it would seem as if the Lord builds the passion and desire I have to teach the life transforming power of God’s Word to the lives of others. All I can do is move forward and remember that everything I learn, everything I study, experience, read, all of it, is not for me but for Him and the people I will minister with it.
The second theme of challenge I have seen this summer, is a continued one, and that is in regards to other people. My strongest suit has never been with people, which is funny coming from a person who wants to go into ministry, yet the Lord continues to bestow grace as He works with me in this area. Camp is like a master’s course in working with people. For every person whose company you enjoy it seems like there are two you do not. The cool thing is that there are always people who think the same back of you. What is awesome and something new I am starting to learn is that regardless how and who you find annoying, we still have the ability to serve and function beside them all the same. This was an idea beginning to form in my mind last year and I continue to develop in it. To be honest I have not been very gracious with people in the past. Where I had been shown grace so many times I withheld from those who could have used it from me. I am very much, or have been, a Jonah. In the book of Jonah, the prophet Jonah can be seen as a reflection of Israel and how little they cared for non-Jews. As Jonah moves along the very grace that is seen to be given to him by God, he withholds from others. Israel being God’s people were meant to show His love to all the world, yet they failed at doing so. In the same way as Christians the love of Christ and His grace in us, is meant to be shown to others. I suck at this whole loving people thing, I really am a Jonah at times, but that should not stop me from pursuing, from wanting to love them, until I actually do.
Over the course of the summer the Lord has also been showing me what it means to lead, to be a leader. My idea of a leader used to be someone who had established authority, one who has risen to a certain point, given a position, a title, over people in places lower than them. That may be what it means to lead by worldly standards, but that is not how Christ calls us to lead. Not only have there been some amazing examples of leaders here this summer to learn from, but also the opportunities to put into practice that learning. A leader is someone who is willing to do the same work that those who are not leading do. It is about doing the deed no matter how meaningless, and taking charge of a task when no one else sees need to. It is not about doing less, but more, willingly, joyfully. By no means am I saying this is me, but more so an idea I believe is worth living up to when it comes to leading others. While I have had my moments this summer I still cringe a little in my head when asked to go to the dish room or to do one of the less glorious jobs. Of course being a leader also comes back to the element of loving people. You cannot truly and effectively lead a person like Christ would unless you first love them. Sometimes this means giving a golf cart ride to a cabin for a person who bugs you or even overlooking so minor bending of a rule when you know you could easily come down on that person. Leading, like love, is less about you and more about other people. A friend of mine used to say “leading, let alone loving, people is not thinking little of yourself, but not thinking of yourself at all.” There is a lot of truth to that, especially to the Christian in Christ, because if you are living so faithfully focused on Him, then He will look after you, so you really do not need to. I still think a lot of myself, something I am coming to terms with in that we will always combat thinking of ourselves first and not being something that ever entirely goes away.
Lastly, I have continued in my battle to find an understanding with church. Not the body of believer’s Church, but the idea of being a part of a local congregation. This has been something I have long since loathed and looked past and only recently reconsidered my position on the matter. One of my professor’s planted the idea in my head before the end of school that even Christ participated at synagogues His whole life, and that was with the very people who would one day kill Him. Church has always been hard for me as I have never been a part of or been shown how to be a part of a proper church body. As far as it goes church has always been where you go on Sunday, maybe have a Bible study on Wednesday, take communion, and that was that. Reading about what church is meant to be I am more and more coming around to it. Upon returning to school my goal is to be a part of a church body somewhere. What it comes down to is I just have to do it now, not talk about it, not intend it, but do it.
And there you have it, a little piece of my life and thoughts from the summer so far. This summer is not over yet though. Writing a post like this and being over the halfway mark towards being done makes it all too easy to start throwing the towel in. There is plenty to learn between now and then, it would be foolish to miss out on what He wants to show me in the here and now because my mind was too focused on what waited ahead. Do not get me wrong, while all of the above seems peachy and keen I still am a hypocrite and struggle. That is the nature of still having the flesh. I say this for any one of you who assumes otherwise, only to be let down by the first outward sign of inconsistent behavior. Christ is doing a wonderful transforming work in my life, it is brilliant, but I truly would be a liar and hypocrite if I did not tell there were days I do not act like Christ. You think that would be assumed amongst believers, unfortunately that is not always the case. All in all this is just another blog, by another believer, daily living, growing, struggling and everything else in between. You can take that for whatever it is worth.