I wrote this to my high school-aged church camp “kids.” I’m not certain how I feel laying it out for public consumption, but I feel called to do it. So, here are some of the “Reasons I Went to Camp.”
I’m going to start by telling you to keep reading. It’s not a strategy I allow my students to use, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m telling you to keep reading because, chances are, this isn’t going where you think it’s going.
I had a “moment” tonight. To explain it, I’m going to have to lay some parts of myself bare, so please stick with me here. I was born as a sisterless-sister. Eight years before I was born, my sister died at only two days old. All of my parents’ other babies died before I was born. Even though I never set eyes on her or touched her, I was born into a world in which something was missing. Sometimes my soul literally aches for the loss I never had. Sometimes I berate myself because this loss should be nothing, is nothing compared to the pain so many carry. Yet, there are times where my “missing” sister makes me feel so alone. And the words won’t come. Only tears.
But tonight, as I laid down my precious little girl and the “moment” struck me, as I curled into a ball of tears in the hallway outside the rooms of two of the most amazing children I will ever know, I was struck by something.
Not having my sister is probably what made me a Christian.
As a small child, I dealt with those floods of emotions by imagining meeting her in heaven. I clung to that like a lifeboat on choppy seas. I could see that moment in the distance, offering a hand of hope in the dark night.
And then it hit me what a “bad” reason this was to be a Christian. I’ve learned so much (and am still learning!) about what it means to be a Christian since those sleepless nights of childhood.
But, what did God do with my “bad” reason for clinging to Christianity? He grew me. He said, “You’re here. It’s a start. Let me take it from here.”
As these thoughts slammed into me one after one, I thought of all of the times I did things for “bad” reasons…and all that God brought from those times.
Some years, I went to camp to find a boyfriend. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen.). Sometimes I went to feel cool or popular. Others I went to find someone who would show me a way out of a bad relationship. To be honest, I even went a couple of years for reasons I couldn’t explain…because I didn’t want to go.
Read that again. I did NOT want to go to camp.
Me. The person who preaches that camp changed my life. The person who spent every single night of seventh grade clinging to the promise of camp in the summer. Camp had literally pulled me out of a place where (in my overly-dramatic 12-year-old mind) I felt I couldn’t face the world. I didn’t want to go.
But, I went. As a camper with bad reasons, good reasons, no reasons and everything in between, I went. As a counselor going for the right reasons or the wrong reasons, I went.
And God used every single one of those reasons for His glory. I got to the right place, regardless of why I was there, and God took it from there.
He’s good at that.
He can take our mess and mistakes and make it something beautiful. He can bring beauty and glory from the darkest of places.
So, I’m telling you now, just come. He will meet you where you are. Come to church, come to youth group, come to camp, to post-high to women’s group or men’s group. Go where people are gathered in God’s name and He will meet you there.
Even if you don’t see the beauty of it for 20 years or more, let go and let God.
Love to you all,