One morning during this past summer I woke up and started getting ready for the morning program meeting and had a sneaking suspicion that I needed to be available that day, I wasn’t sure for what but I knew that it was going to be an emotionally heavy day within the first 10 minutes of waking. At the morning meeting I saw exactly what I needed to be available for, and my heart was already so full I didn’t see how I could add anything else to it. So like an adorably disobedient child, I decided that I would be consumed with other things, to get pulled in other directions and decided that, yeah I’ll “pray” for that situation instead, that’s about the same. The day went on and I kept on allowing other things to consume my time even though I knew there was a person who needed an outlet. After ignoring the situation for 12 hours, I could see the emotion weighing, physically weighing this person down. Finally I took them aside and did what I was supposed to. I gave my hugs, tears, and time to this person; but why did I wait all day? I am a little embarrassed to admit this here but I think there is an important lesson within my embarrassment.
Part of the human condition is that we are egocentric. We’re afraid of opening ourselves up to other people because if we give too much of ourselves--when will that debt be repaid? when will I be filled back up? I call this “if you give a mouse a cookie” syndrome. If you are unfamiliar with the book, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, it tells the story of a human granting the request of a mouse to have a cookie, but that simple request quickly turns into more: some milk, a place to sleep, clothes, time, & so on. The mouse wanted everything the human had. If I give of myself, my time, my hugs, my words, my all--what more is going to be asked of me? If I take a chance on this one person how many more people do I have to take a risk on? If I am giving of my time what else will be demanded of me? It is so much easier to do the bare minimum regardless of the circumstances; it is so easy to be selfish and to love at a distance.
But my friends, we weren’t called to love from afar, we are called to be all up in each other’s business and love without borders. Love big, love long, just love, love, love! It is tough and I am first in line to tell you that I fail at this often but on days when you wake up knowing that there is something you have to do, be obedient in that. Sometimes I forget that being in the camping “industry” means that I am an active participant of ministry, which isn’t a term that I am nuts about. I feel so resistant to anything too “churchy” or saying words that are spit out so often that their meaning is lost in translation. But camp is a ministry, followers of Christ showing and sharing love with everyone who come through camp’s gates. The practice of Ministry isn’t black & white, it is a fluid, evolving, and active word that looks different for different parts of the body.
For me this last summer, ministry meant investing my time and actively listening to staff, holding my tongue and waiting for the right words to come rather then filling people up with empty words. I had to remember every single morning I woke up that ministry, just like love, is a choice; I have to wake up and choose to give and to listen to where the Lord wants me to go.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35