Jul26WedJuly 26, 2017
When I came home from Menno Haven Camp & Retreat Center on Friday last week, our daughter gave me a large hug and then said, with a wrinkled nose, “You smell like camp!” (Rarely is that phrase used in a positive context.) I defended myself but reluctantly admitted that she was probably correct.
Encounters with nature usually include damp clothing, dirty shoes, bug spray, sweat, smoke and bathing less frequently. It is the mess, not the adventure, which usually deters people from intentionally dwelling in such conditions. And to be honest, I also don’t like the mess of camp. I like to have clean clothing, dry bedding, and so forth. However, I also recognize that sometimes I need to enter messy, adventuresome situations in order to learn to be thankful for that which I have access to everyday. For example, a tooth brush is such a welcome gift when you’ve gone a week without brushing!
My time at Menno Haven also reintroduced me into the emotional and spiritual mess of teenage living. The spiritual theme for the week was on the subject of trusting Jesus. I was asked to speak on the gradual transition from worrying about life to walking daily with the Lord. I had a blast sharing Scriptural lessons and relevant stories! But throughout those various times, I met students who are addicted to porn (both male & female students), have tried to commit suicide, have terrible relationships with their fathers, are experiencing depression, are controlled by fear, and feel like failures in life among friends and in their relationship with God. At that just begins to scratch the surface of the messy conditions of students, even from Central Illinois, Mennonite families!
Therefore, it was such a blessing to have the opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) them into a relationship with Jesus who specializes in walking with those whose life is messy. At our special Thursday night worship service, I was able to emphasize the reality that God doesn’t expect us to clean up our lives before we come to him. Jesus may not always protect us from the mess which others bring upon us, or the messes which we choose, but He loves to lead messy people onto new paths of restoration and healing. And He did precisely that during this week at camp. Five students made first time commitments to Jesus and many others ask Him for help in new areas of life!
Ask you pray this week, I encourage you to ask the Lord to lead you to people who are ready to admit that their lives are too messy to clean up on their own. Warning: Venturing into such a mission may mean that some of their mess spreads into your life. However, we serve a God who is faithful and just to forgive any sin and lead anyone away from the mess they are in (1 John 1:9). Praise the Lord for camp...and more importantly His restoring gospel message which is able to lead us out of our mess.