I don’t want to spoil any of the over-the-top surprises and wonders of Young Life Camp for future high school-aged guests. From a camper’s perspective and experience, you’ll see and read less here than you can on the YL website. What I want to write about is all God wants me to bring home and live out from my adult guest experience at Sharp Top Cove.
Rob and I ended our wonderful week at camp on my 50th birthday. I have felt God teaching me this last year about ways I need to change, and how my life should look on the “back nine.” With Young Life Camp as the exclamation point on His year of lessons, what is He saying? How shall I live?
On the outside Young Life Camp feels and looks like all fun and games. No one is bored with the Gospel there! A beautiful setting with everything taken care of for the campers, who are treated like royalty. As they walk through a human tunnel of enthusiastically cheering kids their own age — truly just glad the campers have arrived to be served — the campers get their first glimpse of the week ahead: the best week of their life! “Let me take your bags and show you to your cabin.” The kids walk in to the lodge style accommodations and are taken aback by the professional decorations and attention to detail and comfort. And it’s all for them.
As they get off the bus they are told that for the week, this camp is yours! Off they run to freedom — to blob, zip line, slide, swing, play and hangout with their friends. The running, frenzied pace at which they try to experience it ALL that first day, makes you think they think it may be a little too good to be true. In an unstable world, it seems they’re trying to grab it all and take it all in, while they can! The one thing removed from their world this week (that is so pleasantly notable) is electronics of all kinds… no phones, computers, itunes… just friends and this awesome camp.
Behind the scenes, it’s the staff’s intentionality in all the details and the spirit of the abundance and the fullness of God’s provision that impressed me. A philosophy of excellence, service and surrendered trust in God is apparent in every aspect of their ministry. This attitude in each moment and each task is what I want to bring home to my everyday life. Colossians 3:23-25 (MSG) says, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”
I saw these verses lived out daily in the staff, volunteers and activities at Sharp Top Cove. Despite their fatigue and the monotony of some of their jobs, it is those involved in the “daily grind,” the business of making Young Life Camp happen, whose faces reflect the MOST love and joy. There’s a secret for me in that obvious truth. Another verse comes to mind, 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
The skits and singing, the lake activities and climbing, through cabin time and quiet time, delicious AYCE meals and soft clean sheets — everything point to the Gospel and Jesus. Everything. That’s how I want to live my life — as a living sacrifice, fully alive, glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Loving HIm with all my heart. soul, strength and mind, and loving my neighbor as myself. I’ve never seen a sincere, living example of the Gospel quite like at Young Life Camp.
The Challenge? How do I bring it home to my daily grind? Don’t get me wrong… my life is wonderful in most ways. Still, there is a “daily grind” so to speak… meals to prepare, floors to clean, clothes to wash and bathrooms to scrub. Bills to pay, necessities to purchase, calendars to manage — and that’s all outside of the office! No one is really taking care of the details for me here. In addition most of us in the sandwich generation juggle family obligations and privileges at a pace that’s hard to explain or achieve. We just feel crazy busy and struggle to even fit in our quiet time. Even so, I feel God is saying, you can experience that same camp life, here and now. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)
I think this post will be ongoing… as I uncover more of what God is saying to me, so I’ll start with a few observations, in no particular order.
- At camp, there seemed to be more time in the days — I didn’t feel rushed, yet it seemed MUCH was accomplished. We had a very full schedule, but I didn’t feel crazy busy. Unlike Young Life Camp, in my daily grind, it’s not so normal to see two or three huddled together in prayer. We rarely stop in the frenzy of our days, like the college-aged mountain bike guides (and all the others) did, to acknowledge God’s beauty, thank Him and ask for His protection — before racing off. Even if we do fit in our morning quiet time, we often segregate that time with God away from the rest, and move forward from it into “real life.” If we don’t take God with us and talk to Him all day, aren’t we driving further from Him throughout the day? I want to pray more freely throughout the day, inviting God into my mundane chores and meetings and others into my prayers.
- Despite all the wonderful activities and great group of friends, club, cabin time, chalk talks… all the times we met together to pray and to talk about Jesus were the highlight of the day for most everyone I asked! At Young Life Camp people literally line up and run in to hear about Jesus! The distractions of all those wonderful 2nd tier things that are fun and useful, diminished in importance throughout the week, and our relationship with Jesus and others increased. The days just got better and better as the camp swelled with God’s love and the Holy Spirit’s notable presence. I want to make Luke 10:27 my life verse: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” I can never be reminded enough that God and my relationship with Him is my priority! My purpose in this world. All the other wonderful components of this life on earth are for my enjoyment and important — but EVERYTHING pales in importance next to God. Everything. And loving people and meaningful relationships is top on the 2nd tier.
- I sang more than I have in years! Loud and free! Worship songs, favorites from the ages, even pop songs I’ve never heard. My grandmother mentioned my poor singing voice once as five year old little me belted out “Happy Birthday.” She was right! My voice is not beautiful, to say the least. But I’ve spent too many years mouthing the words and shutting music out. At camp I loved singing like no one was listening, because it was so loud no one could hear me! Music is so awesome for bringing bound emotions to the surface. I’m not so good with itunes (at least since I changed computers) and all the modern marvels of music. I want to get with the times, and get more music in my life — including some of the current tunes I feel too old for. I want to be relevant today and use the voice God gave me!
- The kids can’t take the lake, the mountains, the toys or the service home. The work crew, cooks and staff won’t be tending my every need in Tallahassee. But there is Someone enduring we can take away — and in Him, we take the BEST of what felt so good at Sharp Top Cove. The last days at camp the frenzy to DO all the activities weined. We were more content to BE. Engagement in relationships, regular worship, prayer and enjoying God and His creation are available everywhere. Young Life Camp is more than a place. It’s a way of doing Life to the fullest. I’ll try to flesh out what this looks like in the weeks to come. I already knew Jesus as my personal Savior when I went to camp — but back home, I still may not really believe this world and all God’s treasures are freely mine while I’m here. I’m still a little rushed and frenzied to achieve and experience all the good things the world offers — but they aren’t the main event! I need to shift my focus. Live more like the latter days of camp where there might have been less scheduled events, less activities, but there was no way God or people were going to be squeezed out. He was the focus, the reason, the celebration, and the gift, in and for all else.
More to come as I continue to listen. For now, “Abba, thank you! You gave me several periods of rest — in Europe, at the beach and at Young Life Camp, because you love me and care about the details of my life. You removed me from the frenzy of the daily grind and spoke to my heart. Many of the more stressful circumstances of my life are not yet improved, but I feel Your Peace. Thank you for reminding me to rest in You, trust in You, and to find life and love in YOU!” In Jesus name, Amen.
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