An open letter to those who love camp.
If you are like me, the news of the closing of camp for the summer has gripped my heart and caused a period of deep reflection about what is, what was and what will be with respect to our ministry to kids and their families. Camp is a place of healing, hope, peace, comfort, fun, adventure and the discovery of a God that loves, cares for and guides his children. The silver lining in this whole mess is that none of that changes.
I wanted to share with you some words of encouragement from a source I have found to be enlightening, inspiring and encouraging. This deep treasury of wisdom is anchored in a television commercial—and no, I have not lost my mind.
Our friends at Farmers Insurance remind us: “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Here’s what I know: We’ve seen God’s faithfulness in great times, and in times of distress, we’ve seen broken hearts and relationships healed through the power of the Holy Spirit at camp. We’ve seen hilarious skits and not so hilarious skits at campfire. We’ve seen kids and staff come to the life-transforming realization of their need for a Savior and we’ve been blessed to be there in the sacred moments of surrender. We’ve seen broken arms, skinned elbows, sunburns, sunrises and sunsets, and chickenpox. And you know what? We are going to see them all again!
God is so good, and we have seen his faithfulness, so let’s live like we trust that he is always faithful and present with us in the midst of this messy stuff. “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
In Lamentations 3:22-23, we read: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning (NLT).
Those at State Farm would say it like this: “And like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”
I had an encounter this week with an older couple at the outdoor chapel here at camp. I went there for a bit of solitude, seeking God’s presence and comfort, and as I walked into the chapel this couple sat there praying. We greeted each other, maintaining appropriate physical distance, and we each continued to pray. They left before I was ready to go and as I sat there, I thought about my neighbors and some of the really significant and meaningful ways that they have engaged with that space. There have been weddings, a memorial to a son who lost his battle with addiction, times of reflection and yes, times of mischief, but in it all, I thank God for the ministry of presence that we have in the community.
Today one of the neighbors walked in and handed me a check for $200. She said she heard that we were helping to feed folks in the shelters and she wanted to help and knew she could trust us to do the right thing with the money. I thank God for that sacred trust, and like a good neighbor, I hope that we will always be there.
Acts 1:8 reminds me of who my neighbor is. Though we are sheltering in place at the moment, this is our Jerusalem and I hope to carry the peace of God to my neighbors in some meaningful way now and when we are through to the other side of all this. Who is your neighbor?
At the risk of carrying this metaphor too far…This is a time of chaos, distress, anxiety and worry for many. Some might even say a time of mayhem (you see where I’m going don’t you?). My friends at Allstate ask the question: “Are you in good hands?” I want to encourage you by flipping that question on its head and offer a statement affirming that we are indeed in good hands. Whatever the future holds, we’re in his hands.
In Mark’s gospel, chapter 4, we read the story of Jesus calming the sea. It’s an amazing miracle demonstrating Christ’s power over creation, but I also think there is so much more to the story. As the disciples grumbled about whether Jesus was concerned about them, could see them or would even do anything to help. I think that Jesus was waiting for them to wake him so he could demonstrate that his presence would always be enough to weather the storm.
Miracles are cool and they had seen him do many, but this was different for them—and is a reminder to us. God’s presence in the storm will always, always be enough. When the disciples were safe on the other side of the storm, they had a soul awakening to the fact that there was much more to learn about Jesus. As God calms this storm, and he will, we will find ourselves safely on the other side, and my hope and prayer for us individually and as ministry partners, is that we have been stirred by the reality that there is much more to learn about Jesus. I believe that God is leading us into a bright future at camp as we take time now to re-imagine, retool, rethink and reinvigorate our ministry model to ensure that at camp, people young and old will discover the deep, deep love of God and in that they will flourish and thrive and return home as ambassadors of hope and peace.
I’m thinking and praying for you all, and longing for summer 2021. Keep charging!
Much love, Ed