This past weekend, I was blessed to be able to go on a refreshing trip with the fam through the trees of Northern California and Oregon. Although trips like these are mostly tough for me, because of a weekend away from my friends and not being able to have time to myself, in other ways, it always provides a nice time to reflect on current things and spend time in prayer.
I had time to process how summer camp with 40+ high schooler’s went the past week. In short, it was amazing. God delivered in ways that completely demonstrated His faithfulness, despite my lack of trust.
I couldn’t tell you how anxious I was to be going on this trip, especially when I found that I was going to drive 14 of some of the loudest kids in a packed van down to Pismo, a whopping 3+ hour drive.
Would I be able to connect with the kids? What are we going to talk about for 3+ hours??
I had no idea what to say to them or how I would relate, and yet God opened channels of communication through us. I was able to have conversations getting to know the kids and their history with the church and their family background.
One of the biggest things I learned on this trip was that God’s love breaks through barriers. As I got to know the kids in my small group on a deeper level, I found out that I really didn’t have much in common with them. I mean, most of them struggled with drugs & alcohol, broken homes, abuse, sex, divorced parents & absent fathers…and the list goes on. And yet, I was able to see beyond their crude jokes and coarse language, to understand that they are longing for love and acceptance and that Christ freely offers that to them, no matter their destructive pasts.
God opened my heart to truly desire for them an understanding of the essence of the gospel. And I pray that they come to see Christ’s abundant grace and mercy at the foot of the cross.
The first day of camp was definitely the most memorable camp experience I’ve ever had. We were planning on spending the whole week on Pismo beach. 15 minutes in the bumpy car ride on the sand, we had 2 cars stuck on the beach. The next hour or so, we’d periodically shovel out sand from the tires and let some air out, push the car as hard as we could out of the ditch, and repeat every few yards. It was a grueling task and when we finally got all the cars to the campsite, we quickly realized that the cars getting stuck was definitely not the biggest difficulty.
We had to set up the tents… in the sand. Accompanied by biting wind that blew sand into our faces, our eyes and mouths, and stung our entire bodies. It took us almost 2 hours to somehow manage to erect a handful of half finished tents, with the tops billowing furiously in the wind as if they’d topple any second.
Long story short… we ended up packing up all our things and headed out of the disastrous sandstorm.
The beautiful thing about this experience is that it reminds me of God’s desire to use rough times to bring us closer to Him. I look back at this crazy event and see God bringing kids, parents, and leaders together as one community; strangers working together for a common purpose. It makes me wonder how different our camp experience would have been if that first day wasn’t there. I believe that we wouldn’t have been able to bond as quickly, that perhaps we wouldn’t have appreciated the new campsite as much, that maybe we wouldn’t have opened our hearts a little more to God’s love and come to some sort of understanding of His immense blessings in our lives.
Weeks like these bring me back to the majestic awe of God’s provision, righteousness, and deep love towards us. I am reminded and encouraged by Galatians 6:9-10 - “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So, then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Oh God, I pray that this may be true in my life, that as in Matthew 11:28, as I become weary and burdened, I seek you as the source of my rest, and like John 14:27, a peace that the world doesn’t offer.
God may You light the way as I try to be an example of Christ in these kids lives. And may all the glory go to You and You alone.