I'm back from camp. I'm tired. Not just the "rest your head on the pillow" kind of tired, but rather the, "I had appointments with God this week" worn out "emotionally and spiritually" tired! I will say that I don't think XFUGE is my favorite camp, but I certainly know now that we were suppose to be there!!!!
For me, the whole "give everything to God" experience started with the trip down there. I hate to travel. I will not complain, for we were in charter buses, yet there is something a little claustrophobic to me about being on a bus and not being able to just stop along the way when you want to. I know this sounds crazy, because I spent my childhood and youth traveling around the world...of course I didn't have certain health issues then, which sometimes makes traveling hard for me sometimes. Anyway, I said all of that to say, there was a lot of prayer passing through my lips for the 12 hour journey to Panama City Beach.
We got there and it was beautiful! Except for the 70 something kids, my sister would have been in heaven! However, God didn't bless me with the skin that tans, instead I have very fair skin, that only turns one other color... lobster red! So sitting on the beach, laying out in the heat doesn't appeal to me, if there is not a "prize" of a tan at the end of the day! I spent a lot of time in the condos with my girls, though. Hmm... maybe there is a reason I wasn't at the beach in the afternoons?! It was a great time for me to get to know a lot of them better! As for going to the beach, well, we had our church group time out there one night. It was majestic! Nothing like hearing youthful voices singing "How Great is Our God," with arms lifting to the stars and waves crashing in harmony in the background. Beautiful!
The Speaker was wonderful. He was an "in the word, scripture teacher." He left me every morning and every night, bruised and battered by the word. I always left worship feeling like I had my toes stepped on, was punched in the gut and left bleeding. Isn't it amazing how God knows what we need to hear, when we need to hear it? I still have so much "stuff" floating in my head and in my heart that I haven't even been able to grab hold of all God wants me to know, yet. I can't wait to have "appointments" with him this week, to learn more.
Notice I said "appointments?" My husband often says to his kids, that God has "appointments" set up for each of us. Sometimes they are moments of blessings and learning, sometimes they are earth shattering experiences and one day each of us will have the final appointment of meeting our maker and Father face to face. Well, we all, our whole group had appointments with God this week and He was going to certainly show us his glory!
I first started thinking about all of this Tuesday afternoon. I was suppose to teach the Wednesday small group lesson to the older girls. You have to understand this about me, teaching is a little out of my "comfort zone." Not that I can't do it, it is just something that doesn't come easy to me. So the other adult lady in my group, who is one of our youth Sunday School teachers, agreed to teach Tuesday and Thursday morning and I would be in charge of Wednesday. Tuesday afternoon as I started looking at the lesson that I would be in charge of, I about died! It was hard! Maybe it was just the subject matter for me, but as I glanced at the other lessons, I thought God was playing a joke on me, because it certainly seemed a more difficult lesson than the others. I was scared! How was "I" going to get through this lesson myself, much less try to teach it. I was up late and up early praying and worrying about small group time and what would actually come out of my mouth...
The lesson was on "being clothed in Christ." What's so hard about that to talk about? Well, truth was that was just the intro to the lesson. The "meat" was FORGIVENESS! Ouch! We were to talk about accepting God's forgiveness, forgiving others and most important, forgiving ourselves. I have to be honest here... I still carry a lot of baggage from my childhood, my youth, other church experiences that has built up and created "plaque" on my heart...it is so hard to let go and totally ACCEPT forgiveness sometimes. I don't remember everything I said during class time and I certainly will not take the credit, for I was having an "appointment" with God and I believe with all my heart, that so were my girls! You see, the day before I had already talked to three out of the fifteen girls in my group one on one about things going on in their lives and forgiveness popped up every time. So when I saw the lesson, I knew in my heart that 6 months or a year ago, God had whispered the words to a lesson to the writer, that would touch the hearts of my kids and myself. During class that day, we ended with tears, prayers and many hugs. God was working on us in a big way... and there would be more to come...
I was sitting talking to three other adult counselors, sharing about the morning events, when we got the call... four of our guys were swept out in the ocean and couldn't get back in. Because of the quick thinking of other friends on the beach, they were rescued. One spent the night at the hospital, while the other three seemed ok, yet inside were fighting a battle. They almost drowned! They thought they were going to drown and were worn out and scared. The rest of us were left feeling helpless. I wanted to yell at God. WHY? After all we are at CHURCH CAMP! God whispered back... "I answered your prayer, I'm getting their attention." I almost feel the need to apologize to those boys. The night before I had prayed for God to get the attention of our group and show them how great he is. Lesson learned...you have to be careful what you pray for. God certainly showed us his power that afternoon. He was shouting to us with each wave that crashed and each breathe those boys took... LOOK AT ME, I AM!!!
Our boys are fine. Our group is fine. However, we are all changed. Camp this year was unlike any I had ever gone to. I left camp feeling like I had totally experienced the power of our God first hand. The ocean is beautiful, with all of the water crashing on beaches of sand... yet it can also be so dangerous. Isn't that the way life is though? Beauty surrounds us everywhere, yet danger lurks in the shadows at all times. And then there is our incredible Heavenly Father who showers us with love, forgiveness and saving grace... He is our "I AM!"
My children are back home with me, which makes me happy. We were able to bring back seventy something kids back home to their parents last night, which makes me thankful. At camp a whole youth group was changed, which leaves my heart speechless. I believe in a mighty God, who embraces us with tenderness and his forgiving love, yet demonstrates his power and majesty! God is "mighty to save!" Amen.