Monday, July 16, 2012

Good Gifts: Summer Camp and Deaths for Glory

 This morning while Robert and I were running, and hardly able to breathe in this thick New England humidity, I had a funny thought.  Here we were dripping with sweat {don't hear me complaining, though!} and jogging back toward home on the beautiful bike trail near our house when I remembered the time three years ago when we went snow-shoeing for the first time on that same trail.  It was hard to imagine several feet of powdery snow, freezing temps, and lots of layers as we struggled to complete the last sweltering mile of today's run.

It's sort of the same thought I've been having about last week.  We had SUCH an incredible time at camp ~ our 10th year to go and the first year that all of my kids were old enough to be campers ~ but it was a very dark and hopeless week for a very dear friend.  While we were laughing and playing and learning together on a beautiful college campus near the ocean, she was a thousand miles away sinking into a despair so deep that she tried to take her own life on Friday. {She's stable now.} It was a sobering contrast that I couldn't shake.  I wanted to leave and be by her side, and yet I couldn't.  The joys of camp seemed so wrong, and yet they weren't.

Yesterday, the sermon at church {given by Tom and not Robert who was sort of "preached out" from camp!} was about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  We didn't focus much on this particular verse, but as I was re-reading the story it became my fervent prayer for my friend. When Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick, he replied,

"This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it."
John 11: 4

Lazarus' sickness actually did result in death, but then it resulted in him being raised by Jesus through prayer.  I pray that the dark and hopeless experience of Friday morning may have been the "death" my friend needed to die in order to be raised in hope and healing  to the glory of God.  Though tragic, it most certainly could be a gift of grace in her life.  I pray she is given eyes to see and a heart to understand and receive.
 But camp was indeed wonderful!  Well, maybe all parts except the cafeteria food.  What's a camp experience without complaints about the food?  Honestly, I think the food is quite decent, and the kitchen staff always welcomes me and my high-maintenance gluten free family with smiles and bend-over-backwards-accommodation.  No complaints here!  { <---I first typed "camplaints" accidentally, but spell check didn't like that.  It sort of works here, though!  ☺}
 One highlight and source of a week's worth of laughter and teasing was Kory's prayer for "Pastor Rob." He was asked to pray for the evening worship service one night.  I guess "Dad" would have been a little awkward?  They always try to be undercover at camp, but when Dad's powerpoint includes a family photo on occasion, it's hard to keep your "normal-camp-kid" cover!
Robert, as usual, did an excellent job of describing the Christian's "Road Trip" which was the theme of the camp.  I'm biased, I know, but I sense that everyone looks forward to his teaching, and I'm included in that group.  The Lord used Him to communicate the gospel clearly to around 500 teenagers and they responded in profound ways.  I never tire of seeing him used in this way.  I also don't know how he does it!?!  6 sermons in 6 days, a morning Bible study with adult chaperones, and leading recreation and fellowship times for those chaperones as well.  It's one intense and exhausting week!  

{I was privileged to lead the female chaperones in a Bible study on Titus.  It was such a highlight to meet these amazing women, to study, and laugh together, and to marvel together at the Lord's grace in giving us all we need to live for Him in a way that adorns His gospel.  I'll never be able to get enough of that!}
 Dora the Explorer greeted us each day at Morning Celebrations.  She gave us our announcements for the day and played "Would You Rather" with all of us.  {Oreos or Swedish Fish?}  One morning even Diego made an appearance.  Hilarious.
 Morning calisthenics were in the form of Olympic Training, so one morning it was rhythmic gymnastics, one morning tennis, another swimming, volleyball, and basketball.  I think some serious PR's were met in the course of the week.
 I got to hang out with some of my favorite people in the world!  This is Katlynne and Taylor.  Love these ladies, but they make me look and feel OLD!!!  Oh my...
 We actually had a "youth group" this year!  Historically, it's only been our family, and we've all stayed together in the air-conditioned staff dorm suites.  Not this year!  This year we took friends from our church and others and made up a group of ten youth.  This meant we needed 2 chaperones, too, so Christie and Ian went along to stay with our boys and girls in their respective regular, un-air-conditioned dorms.  This meant that Robert and I also had to share our suite with the worship leader of the camp and his wife.  It all worked out so well, and we enjoyed meeting lots of new folks.
 There was a worship service every evening in the beautiful Gordon College chapel ~ wonderful praise and worship music and wonderful teaching. {see above☺}
 Kory was determined to lead his Bible study/team in winning the spirit stick for the day.  They finally won it on Friday afternoon which is always Mega-Relay day.  Teamwork and cheering for your fellow junior high team during this crazy relay game will win you the stick and that's exactly what happened.
 Kayla's team passing the hula hoop...
Coop doing the Zig Zag for his team
 A trip to nearby Singing Beach {though it doesn't seem to "sing" anymore!?!} was in order after Mega Relay.  Even us moms enjoyed the cool, but refreshing waves.  We got ice cream on the way back to camp.
So thankful for this sweet group of girls ~ some of Kayla's best friends.
 Having E. here was a real treat!  Kory met her on his trip to The City in February, but didn't expect to see her on his turf anytime soon, or EVER for that matter, but there she was!  A special guest at camp, and her first trip our of her country, she talked to the youth about what it's like to be a Christian in a country in which there are less than 1 percent Christ-followers. She also talked about the time her faith really became her own after a dear Christian friend of her family's was killed while on mission.
And not long after we had arrived home and unloaded, this girl got comfy and fell promptly asleep!  Non-stop activity, late nights, early mornings, and playing hard in the sun will definitely do that to you.  I could have crawled up right next to her and done the same except that Xanadu was on TV and I had a million loose ends to tie up before heading cross country later in the week to California for my brother's wedding. {So excited!} So, I sang along {my boys were impressed and not in a good way}, laughed at the acting, and tried to get my act together for the week to come.

So many gifts last week... the body of Christ worshiping, studying, laughing, and playing together, sunshine, yummy snacks, the ocean, silliness, reunions with old friends, the making of new friends, His life-giving word, His beautiful grace, seeing salvation accomplished in so many young lives, watching my own kids have the time of their lives, getting slightly sun-burned, and so much more. So thankful for the gift of camp.

And still praying for this same type of joy and exuberance for my hurting friend.  Asking for true and complete healing of her heart, mind, body, and emotions.  Praying that her contrasting near death and darkness from last week will become a beautiful part of the redemptive story that I know the Lord is working in her life.  Praying that her sickness is not unto death, but life, and all for the glory of her Lord.


Anonymous said...

Praying for God's glory all around you, Mel. Love from K&J

TCC said...

Mel, So glad to hear all those campers had a taste of Pastor Rob's teaching. Those waves looked yummy.