It’s amazing how two weeks can transform you. But I guess when you really think about it, when those two weeks are spent spending yourself—pouring out all you are—for the sake of others and the glory of God, it makes sense that even such a short time can wreck and remake you. My two weeks of camp this summer were that for me. The time flew by, yet because so much happened, it seemed like I was there at least a month.
As a veteran CentriKid staffer, I should’ve been expecting it—the spiritual undoing and recasting. It happened both full summers I worked. Camp changes you. But I didn’t want to get my expectations up too high. I would only be there for two weeks, after all. And my imagination has a knack for blowing anticipations out of proportion.
But God’s imagination is even wilder than mine. He could revamp my soul in five minutes if he wanted to. At the move of his loving, molding hands, walls come crashing down, worlds collide, deserts flood, and people do what they resist most—change.
Yes, even me. I don’t know exactly what those changes look like yet, but I can look back and pinpoint moments when God was chiseling away at my hardened heart and watering my dry, wilting soul. Here are a few of them:
Sitting in front of 20+ fourth graders, their hands shooting up like I was asking for volunteers to go to Disney World—to ask me questions about God and the Bible. Good questions. Questions I haven’t asked in years. Some questions for which I had to look up the answers. Some questions for which I couldn’t give them answers. Some questions that broke my heart. Some questions that allowed me to talk about the gospel.
As much as I hope my answers to these questions were right, clear, and helped those kids, I think that God also used them to bring me back to my roots. To remind me what taught me to wonder at God and his Word. To remind me how I owe my faith as it is today to questions such as those. To encourage me to ask new questions—not to doubt God, but to dive deeper into his truth and the mystery of who he is.
Watching my new teammates lay down themselves as living sacrifices at every turn. I think coming into an already-formed, well-oiled team gave me a different perspective than in previous summers. It gave me a chance to really notice the sacrifices that staffers make every day– the ones we eventually don’t even think about because they just become part of how we do camp. Sacrificing for kids, adults, fellow staffers– in both small and huge ways. At camp, you sacrifice sleep, rest, time, food, getting your own way, your routine, many of your rights, and much more. While it took me a day or so to get back into that mindset, I watched my fellow staffers do it automatically, with love, grace, enthusiasm, miraculous energy, and great joy.
Sacrifice is contagious. Christ’s sacrifice enables and motivates ours, and we motivate one another. “Lay me down/I’m not my own/I belong to You alone/ Lay me down/ Lay me down” has being playing constantly in my head throughout camp and after. And I’ve felt that spirit of sacrifice continuing to stir in my heart.
I remember my first summer working camp in 2009, riding in a 15 passenger van somewhere in the Southwest, thinking, “This is what the Church is meant to be like.” Putting God’s kingdom first is always a sacrifice. I am so thankful for programs like CentriKid that not only advance his kingdom, but also teach young adults how to sacrifice and truly live for God, in community with each other. I pray that we take that attitude and habit to our churches, campuses, families, and communities.
Holding a young girl’s hand as she prayed for Jesus to come into her life. By God’s extravagant grace, this didn’t happen just once, but several times in those two weeks. More than in my two full summers combined. I can’t get over it. I did nothing. I was just available. We went over the important salvation passages and talked. They prayed. And God saved. It’s why I do camp. It’s why “Mighty to Save” is my favorite camp worship song. It’s amazing to behold a child make that decision and it is literally one of the best reasons to celebrate.
But beyond celebration, it is also cause for reflection. I should never forget the power and the work of the gospel in the world, in history, in the lives of others I know, and in my own life. And the joy that explodes when I see Christ take root in a child’s heart should motivate me to live out my Savior’s great commission– to go, tell others, make more disciples, and witness more moments like these. Though it’s never easy, it’s much easier at camp. To bring the gospel outside of camp (Hebrews 13– what?)– that’s the big challenge. To make sharing it, living it, speaking it to everyone, everywhere I go, my heart and my purpose. It’s something we all, as Christians, believe we want to do, but something so few of us actually do.
What is the change in me from this reflection? I believe it’s a renewed motivation to stick with this heart and purpose. I pray that it is.
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