“So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills.”
This week, I learned that the Lord teaches us the most through obedience. For the last seven days, I served as a camp counselor at a family camp in Tyler, Texas. As a counselor, I get to serve parents by taking care of their babes each morning and evening, which enables moms and dads to be husbands and wives for a few hours. The majority of young families at camp this last week had two or more children who were less than two years apart. Whether you’re a parent or a teenager, surely you can imagine that these families came through the camp gates weary, downtrodden, and broken. Raising children is a challenge and blessing, but raising two preschoolers at once often presents more trials than triumphs. When you’re constantly being pulled on, screamed at, or cried for, listening to your spouse or having alone time can seem like a pipe dream. Introduce: family camp.
Loving on these families has taught me the beautiful power of recklessly serving others. Every meal, parents walk into a dining hall filled with tables that are already set, plates that are already cooked and hot, and counselors that are more than happy to cut their children’s plates and attend to their every need. Young families are able to talk to each other over a hot meal for the first time since their children were born, and no one has to worry about clean-up. During the day, parents get to be poured into through a speaker session and down time while their children are being taught the Gospel and mentored by Jesus-loving college students. Family camp is a place of healing for parents and children, and a place of service for college students. Despite the exhaustion of serving and providing for 40 families all day, everyday, I have never felt more filled with Christ than I did this last week at camp. As a counselor in the infant–pre-K ministry, I saw fathers pick up their toddlers with tears in their eyes, claiming that family camp had saved their marriage. Mothers came by to nurse their babies and encouraged and mentored my fellow counselors and I, each of us vulnerable and openhearted to the Lord’s movement in the moment.
This spring, I was frustrated with my complacency towards God. I was reading my Bible somewhat regularly, attending church every Sunday, surrounded by incredible believers, and still felt leagues away from the Lord. I was ready for something deeper, but terrified of the unknown. Three years ago, the Lord broke my heart in worship to serve at this family camp that I’ve grown up attending. I wrote in the back of my Bible, “I have to work at family camp” as a reminder that despite what I would be leaving behind for two months, I had to apply to work at this camp, for some unknown reason. I was hesitant to leave my driveway and considered coming home at several points during training week, but serving as a family camp counselor has awoken my soul to God’s faithfulness in obedience and His steadfast love. On Wednesday, I was attempting to spoon-feed a fussy 6-month old her first taste of solid food, mashed banana. All her life, this baby has only been nourished by her mother’s nursing; needless to say, she hated the banana. For half an hour, I pleaded and begged this baby to accept the few spoonfuls of food she would need to be satisfied, but she rejected every teeny and tiny bite.
“Please eat this sweet baby, you need this yummy food to grow!”
“I know what’s best for you little baby, trust me.”
Twenty minutes into feeding her, I realized that I treat the Father like this baby was treating me on a regular basis. How often does God call me to new seasons and leaps of faith, only for me to cry and resist? How often does God try to develop my brokenness into beauty, while I scream at the pain of exposing my sin and bitterness? Becoming a counselor meant that I would be leaving my hometown, friends, and the love of my life for two months, with only 24 hours of contact each weekend. I haven’t hugged my mom, dad, or sister in nearly a month, and I won’t see them until next week. I’m exhausted, losing my voice, and constantly attending to others’ needs above my own.
THIS IS SCARY AND NEW!!!!! This is my mashed banana!
God has already moved mountains in my heart, strengthened my endurance, and filled me with immeasurable joy and love for each family that walks through our gates. I shudder at the selfish mindset I had before camp began, how I shirked serving others unless it put me in the spotlight. But Jesus has given me a new heart for others that never would have happened unless I let him nourish me with foreign experiences and lessons this last week. The Lord has led me into a good land of flowing love and pools of joy, that I’m free to dive into whenever my eyes shut tightly in prayer. God is merciful with our stubbornness, but He is quick to bless obedience. The lyrics to Multiply by the Desperation Band have been my heartbeat this week: “take my life, multiply it. All that I am for your glory, all for your glory.” I have one life to give, but giving it to the Lord’s work can help bring healing to dozens of families this summer.
How will you step out in obedience into the unknown?
How will you let the Lord multiply your life for His glory?