Session two finished with campers walking away with eyes full of tears as they ached to not leave this little holy mountain we are on. I saw myself in so many of them because I was that camper. Always leaving session two with tears streaming down my face and resisting unpacking my bags when I got home.
When the excitement of the first session wore off and the familiarity of what session two would like, because I experienced it as a camper, became no more, the unknown of third session settled on the horizon and was clearly in view as Sunday approached.
This session has been quiet.
There has been such a sense of uncertainty sweeping across the villages these campers sleep in. There has been a boxing match every day as they fight the urge to lean it. There has been squirming as they half way listen to the words coming out of staffers mouth.
Will you still do the work?
Will you keep speaking the truth even when it feels like no one is listening?
Will you put on the armor of God and fight back as Satan tries to deafen the ears of those around you?
Will you till the ground even if you never get to see the harvest come?
The first two sessions the Lord was so gracious to let us see the fruit from our labor. But would we press on with the same passion despite not getting to taste the fruit?
The morning after a night where we felt so defeated, our team sat in a circle after jumpstart (church service) and a member of our staff reminded us to not put a label on this session. She spoke the truth over us, “it’s not ours to do, God has already finished the work.”
Our hearts had grown faint in confidence that God was going to move in the same mighty way He did the first two sessions. But we declared that morning that we would go forward with expectation.
Here at camp, Friday is our big night. It is a night where I get to clearly communicate the gospel and all the campers get to have a one-on-one with their counselors to talk about where they are at in their walk with the Lord. On Thursday night, I sat across from my dear friend, Mary-Michael, with a blank sheet of paper telling her through frustration that I did not even know where to start. I felt like this group of girls was so all over the spectrum that I doubted that there was a way to prepare a talk that could resonate with all of them. She kindly she reminded me, “It’s not A or B. There is a C option but it might require you to wait for the Lord to move.”
How often do we try to push the gas pedal and claim “I’m doing things for Jesus” when He hasn’t told us to move yet? How often do we grow frustrated when He doesn’t do things when we want them to?
Our eyes get too focused on the sense of accomplishing something that I think we try to rush what God has intended to do all along. And then we find ourselves in a place of losing steam and belief because it hasn’t happened yet.
Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane “Not my will, Your will.” I learned a hard lesson this session that there are levels to that prayer. If I am going to be bold enough to speak those words out into the open then I have to know what they actually mean.
Not my will, Your will:
-not my timing, your timing
-not what I want, what you want
-not what I think these campers need, what you know they need
-not what I want to happen, but what you have already planned to happen
-not for my satisfaction, but for you glory
So I waited. I sat up Thursday night with nothing by my computer screen as a light, as the girls in my room slept. I waited, and I waited, and I waited. 1 a.m passed, 2 a.m passed, but when I finally truly surrendered and took the posture of “God I can’t, you can” the words came. The structure came. The organization came.
Not because of anything I had done but because I had finally realized it wasn’t about when I was ready to move it was when He was.
Friday night came and as I stepped off the stage and Mary-Michael stepped up to the microphone to lead. I sat, closed my eyes, taking a second to breathe as I had just finished speaking for forty minutes. When I opened my eyes, tuned back in, what I saw and what I heard was unlike anything I have ever experienced at camp. I looked back as a room full of middle school and high school girls lifted their hands in surrender and shouted songs of praise from the top of their lungs.
God was moving.
This was the time.
The room had exploded and I love that it was a moment that happened when I was not trying to force it. It was a moment that God had known about all along. He knew that night would be their moment. Yet, I was getting in the way trying to get this group of girls to a place faster than God wanted them to get there.
Don’t you see it? We know absolutely nothing.
I don’t know what these girls need to hear.
I don’t know when the timing is right.
I don’t know where they need to get to, let alone where they are truly at.
But God knows.
When we fall to our knees, submitting to His perfect plan, speaking the words, “Not my will, Your will,” then we see once more. Because God was never not in control or confused at to what He was doing in session three. I was the one blinding myself with my need for control so much so that I lost sight of the character of God. He is constant.
He has been working all along.
Words were not spoken for a significant amount of time after the campers left the auditorium that night because no one had any. Heaven, heaven had just come to camp.
As Friday night wrapped up. I made my way up to the Cherokee village where I found over 20 campers inside of one room singing worship songs, reading scripture, and affirming each other. All with no counselor. With one voice they sang out, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2: 1-5
Gathered in that upper room, with campers from all different places in their faith, the Holy Spirit became the translator that enabled them to understand each other, to stand with each other, to cheer each other on. In the closing moments of the night, they took turns praying and one girl accepts Jesus right then and there in front of them all.
No staffer in the room.
Our job as believers is not to take people by the hand and drag them to the foot of the cross. Our job is to point them to where it is. We can tell them what it looks like. We can tell them what was done there. We can tell them what it means.
But Jesus is The Way they will get there. [John 14:6]
I stepped back from the room that night as tears filled my eyes. This, this was a night that heaven came to camp. It’s as if a faint whisper from heaven was spoken that night and ever since then these streets, these campers, and these staffers, have not looked the same.
The best part of all of this was the date of that night…..
Right at the start of the Bible, the number 7 is identified with something being “finished” or “complete.” From then on, that association continues, as 7 is often found in contexts involving completeness or divine perfection. We see the command for animals to be at least seven days old before being used for sacrifice (Exodus 22:30), the command for leprous Naaman to bathe in the Jordan River seven times to effect complete cleansing (2 Kings 5:10), and the command for Joshua to march around Jericho for seven days and for seven priests blow seven trumpets outside the city walls (Joshua 6:3–4). In these instances, 7 signifies a completion of some kind: a divine mandate is fulfilled.
God was moving.
This was the time.
Oh Jesus, make us people who do the work even when we don’t see the fruit. Make us people who surrender to Your timing. Make us people who never grow weary in our expectation for what You will do. Make us people whose heart always cry out the prayer “Not my will, Your will.” Make us people who don’t move without you.
But right now, oh right now. I feel it in my bones, you are about to move.
You already have but I know you aren’t done yet.
Week two of session three, let’s do this.