I was there less than seven days. I have been gone less than seven days. And it has impacted my heart and life in ways that will extend beyond the summer, in ways that run deep and remind me of favorite memories and the familiar.
Even though I was not a camper this year, the night before I was still wide eyed with thoughts racing. On the way up the lane, butterflies and excitement threatened to take over. It’s indescribable and unexplainable, my connection to this place and absolute love of it’s unique atmosphere, where the love of God is made visible and tangible in countless ways at every turn.
Already I miss everything about it : the crazy dinnertime chants, the stillness and beauty of creation that declares the artwork of the One who made it, the starry sky – the same no matter where I am, year to year- the bowls of captain crunch, Justice League meetings, making iced coffee in the mornings, Disney sing a longs while cleaning, Lord of the Rings film scores to make life feel more epic, making campfires, getting covered in chalk at color wars, support staff 123s, wearing baseball caps and backpacks everywhere, the reminder of I love Jesus, I love camp when things get tough, their love for all music Switchfoot and Twenty One Pilots and dancing to it in the dining hall, the way everyone does everything big and small with great love for Christ, the community between staff, my cabin of worship camp and Sr. High girls, being reunited with old friends, seeing God’s faithfulness in many stories, and the daily chapel sessions where we all danced and sung of His love come down and how Jesus has rescued me all together.
I miss it so much, because it feels like home.
That’s what it felt like being back. Gorgeous blue skies and a place that echoes the beauty and voice of God. A place that always brings me back and reminds me of the faithfulness of God come full circle in so many aspects of my story. Where so many important decisions and changes have been started. A place where my soul is re-centered on the great God I love and serve, where my self is reminded of its own smallness and need to be still, and where I relearn to value the little things, to treasure the moments spent loving on others, no matter how hard or messy it can be. Familiar territory, but places where my eyes were constantly being widened to see the work and love of God in new ways. To take hold of grace and mercies new every morning.
As I wrote at the beginning of the week : Here’s to being open to change and emotionally grounded in Christ. Here’s to nervous introductions and connections made, and hearts set on fire for God with eyes focused on eternity.
Started off the week with worship, letting these reminders sink into my soul.
You are good, You are good when there’s nothing good in me. You are love on display for all to see. You are light when the darkness closes in. You are hope, You have covered all my sin. You are peace when my fear is crippling. You are true even in my wandering. You are joy, You’re the reason that I sing. You are life, in You death has lost its sting. Oh I’m running to Your arms. The riches of Your love will always be enough. You are more than my words will ever say. You are Lord all creation will proclaim. You are here, in Your presence I’m made whole. You are God, of all else I’m letting go. My heart will sing no other name, Jesus, Jesus.
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory. And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me. And we are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean we’re all sinking. And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us, oh how He loves us.
All in all, one thing I walked away with: there is nothing that compares or is worth more than investing in and fully loving others with everything you have, reflecting the love of Christ and getting to know His heart more deeply through this process.
On Monday morning, we talked about the importance of people. That everyone matters. That we matter. We should be investing in each other and pouring the love of Christ into each other.
As I’ve discovered through the many changes that have happened in my time at this camp, this is where my focus should be at all times. Situations in life can shift at any moment, the paradigm isn’t constant. You can do your best and plan every detail out and be left in total upheaval when inevitable differences arise, or you can go with the flow, ride the waves, and just keep swimming no matter what happens. It’s a reminder that my joy and peace come from Christ and nothing can disturb that ultimately. When your heart is set on giving everything for other’s, you adapt to all things and find the opportunity and adventures there. While it’s uncomfortable when the familiar is interrupted, this place of change is also beautiful. God does some incredible work on your story in that place. I want to be in that place. It’s there where I rely on the strength of the One who holds the universe in His hands, instead of my own imperfection.
From the start of the week, it was evident that God was there. In so many little details, things fell together in an amazing way. In the same cabin as I was five years earlier, a year dear to my heart for meeting several good friends, and being on the Sr. High program. Being in the same cabin as girls from the worship camp I’d attended before and another friend from before was just the cherry on top.
It was a crazy week, full of highs and some lows. I shared my testimony, and while my delivery was jumbled and far from perfect, it was good to put into words just a little of my story and what God has done for me. My favorite part (besides getting to work with some crazy and fantastic people on staff) was getting to interact with campers. So cool to get to talk to them and hear about what God was doing in their lives that week. Also, after stressing out that too many things stood in the way and wouldn’t work out, one of my favorite people and friend from camp surprised me at lunch on Friday. A serious reminder to me that God knows our hearts and is good to us beyond what we deserve.
Over and over again, the message of “ Do you trust Him with your story?” seemed to keep hitting me. It’s been a constant theme of my camp years and life in general. Slowly, I am learning to let go of my dreams and perfectly worded chapters and trust that He will do far more with the blank pages than I could ever imagine, that He will write over my failures with a grace so great that it becomes what matters.
Overall, nothing compares to those nightly chapel sessions, where the praised soared and hearts were poured out and truth was set in our minds and our souls were learning the beauty of surrender. From tears falling, arms lifted high moments, to dancing in a line around the room, jumping around and declaring together that we will sing forever of His love came down, how He pulled us out of darkness, and that Jesus, Jesus rescued me. Many of the songs we sang drew my soul back to previous years and changes that came from singing them. Glory Bowl, hearing all the campers give God glory for what He has done in their lives, was the perfect end to a change filled, wonderful week at camp.