thomas gray


So confession: I’ve owned a guitar for seven years and have never once learned how to play it. But, for some inexplicable reason, I felt led to bring the acoustic that my parents bought me when I was in high school to camp with me this summer.

Well, the reason is clear now.

When student camp 1 began I was excited to learn that I had 15-17-year-old guys in my cabin. I thought, “Awesome! Older guys will be an easy first week.” Well, easy was not the word I would use. In fact, this may have been one of the hardest weeks of the summer. While my campers were exceptionally behaved and refreshingly low key in the cabin, the guys the Lord placed in my path brought with them emotional baggage that I felt woefully unprepared to help them process.

One, in particular, had one of the most heartbreaking stories that I’ve ever heard, dealing with things that most men three times his age couldn’t imagine. Night after night I sat with this guy as he relayed more of his story to me, and night after night I had no idea what to say.

So I said nothing.

Instead, I begged and pleaded with the Spirit to say something through me, anything to soothe this young man’s emotional turmoil. Suddenly, I found myself sitting with this fellow, quoting scripture that I knew I hadn’t ever memorized, explaining to him that new life is possible through Christ’s finished work on the cross. Every day of the week there was no response from him, just silence until he was ready to move on with the evening. I was content with what the Spirit had done, ready to accept that the fruit might be harvested another day. However, the Spirit had moved. The final night of camp at the campfire service this boy stood up and proclaimed to every person there that Christ had changed him and for the first time he saw how much God loves him, proudly proclaiming the faith he had found.

Needless to say, I wept profusely upon hearing this. In fact, I cried so much my left contact lens fell out. The next day I wrote him a letter encouraging him to not forget the new life in Christ that he had found. I stuck it in my guitar case, and as he was walking out the door, I gave him my guitar. You see during one of our talks in the week he told me he used music to help him escape from his difficult life. I encouraged him to pick at my guitar to help him feel better and when he did, his face lit up. The Lord placed it on my heart to give him that instrument, I had no use for it, and this free gift given to this guy could serve as a reminder of the free grace of God given to us. Praise God for a new life, and for seven years of procrastinating that finally paid off with the guitar.