Crestline, CA / August 9-14, ’09
I was wedged, stuck in the stampede. A sea of faces, a maze of bodies, I edged my way through the hyperactivity. As I ended the prayer, I knew that speaking at six summer camps had concluded. My final words were spoken. Emotionally stricken and physically exhausted, I wanted to be alone. I was done.
I ducked in and out of moving arms, hop scotching in and around all the jumping and dancing. The students had rushed the stage when the band started to play their last worship set. Caught in the middle of their jubilation, I was given high-fives and embraces along the way. I attempted with any remaining ounce of energy to listen to raised voices speaking to me. Words got lost competing with the loud speakers.
I felt like I finished the last final exam of a college semester. Six weeks gone. A sigh of relief swept over me. Nervousness evaporated into thin air as songs to God lifted in praise. Mental walls that I constructed to help cement scriptures, lodge stories, and to allow analogies to mortar everything together let loose. Driving away in my Durango would never feel so good once tomorrow dawned.
For six camps, I have been involved within a city on a hill. A rush of sounds from laughter; playing games; conversations; and worshipping; camp is a makeshift community. The world as we know it ceases to exist. Computerized societies and cell phone leashes no longer distract. A focus reemerges.
“…A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). One can never dispute the hand of God moving. His truth can never be shaken. His word never returns void. No, it transforms us, making us salt, helping us to shed light. “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14).
I ended my last camp at Thousand Pines. As for their summer staff, this was their last week of program. The students represented ages ranging from sixth grade to seniors in high school. They had never been to this camp nor had the majority ever heard my story – except for a handful, at most 10. The staff and I shared something in common…to make the most of it. What a joy this staff, these students, and their leaders were!
As I broke through the mob of students and rounded the last of the chairs, I walked outside wanting to hide. I was simply tired. Spent, I realized the obvious…a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Their voices rang. The instruments played. All within the chapel celebrated. I welcomed a bit of solitude, sat down, and enjoyed the cool mountain air. I could feel autumn. Help us to be that city!
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20,21)