Counselor / Cabin 7
One of my favorite moments from the summer was when God allowed me to simply be a spectator of the transformative power of His love in the life of a camper who did not even belong to me. The Christian life is really about setting our sights on God so that we can bear witness and present a testimony of His glory. 1 John 3:3 “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” This is what purifies us, this is what changes us, and this is what leads to ordinary people living extraordinary lives – fixing our hope on Christ.
During meal times one camp I had this twelve year old boy, (we can refer to him as Tanner), who sat at my table for the week. Every meal time it felt like it was Tanner’s mission to make my job as difficult and inconvenient as possible. He would spill his drink on purpose – he told me as much – and by accident when he was snatching at other kids belongings at the table. The most trying part of it all was his attitude and resistance against necessary correction. There was one meal that I was literally in tears out of frustration after campers left the dining hall for afternoon recreation because of the disrespect he had shown. My prayer for most of the week was that I would be able to show Tanner love and grace in the midst of being firm when it came to his misbehavior. I tried to remind myself that he was only twelve years old and may not have a background where he was given a solid framework and example of what it looks like to show others respect and courtesy. You cannot act out what you do not know. However, my frustration got the better of me most of the time. Most of the time I was asking God why I had to deal with this kid at my table and what good could possibly come out of it when my heart was struggling to love sincerely.
The last night of camp came and during our Pow Wow time the speaker called for a volunteer to come up on stage to help him with a trick to illustrate a point in his message. He actually called on Tanner to come up as the volunteer. For the trick Tanner was really just sitting on the stage trusting that the speaker would not drop anything on him as he was tottering some objects precariously over Tanner’s head. Out of nowhere I started feeling an overwhelmingly heavy heart for this kid and was praying that he would simply get something, anything out of the spiritual aspects of this week. Well, at the end of the message the speaker offered an invitation for campers to respond to God’s free gift of forgiveness that He is able to offer through Christ’s death and resurrection as payment for our sins. All of the staff were waiting outside the back of the Lakeview building we were in so that we could see if any of our campers wanted to come out to respond to this invitation. As I was waiting, I saw Tanner come out the door to talk to his counselor. I was excited but I also knew that sometimes campers come out for an invitation and are simply not ready to respond so I really did not know what that conversation was going to look like. Once the invitation time came to a close we all moved over to the benches by the lakefront to have a bonfire in the dark where kids could present their testimony of what God had done in their lives that week at camp. During the testimony time, Tanner stood up with the microphone and said, “I did not think that God was able to save me until about ten minutes ago because He did.”
I had the awesome opportunity to bear witness to the transformative power of God’s grace simply because He allowed this kid to sit at my table and frustrate me all week. What an honor to be blessed with the opportunity to be a spectator of God’s grace. His grace abounds every day but sometimes we have to feel a little bit of pain to recognize what has always been there.