It’s still in my home right now. Not a creature is stirring, not even my dog. 2 of my kids are sleeping, because I suggested it and they complied immediately, obviously relieved to give into their exhaustion. My husband and oldest are on their ‘special day’, which has been in the works this entire summer. I am getting ready to tackle my final VBS as a children’s pastor (for which I need to do much preparation)….but for the moment, I am going to relish the quiet and be still.
We just got home from Family Camp. Where Michael and I were asked to be camp pastors/speakers, which aligned perfectly with our theme for the summer, ‘family’. How could we say no?
Family Camp snuck up on us like a ninja. We had it on the calendar, but it got here before we could get there fully. We had spent time in conversation and prayer, but nothing was finalized until late late late the night before we left. The day we left, all I had to do was pack for the family, and get the kids there by 5:30 (Michael would meet us there from work).
It took me 8 SOLID hours to pack.
I kept walking to my closet to get the suitcase down. But it was so high, and heavy. There are 4 suitcases in one….I just stared at it and tried to convince it to come down on its own. There was bedding to pack, towels, shoes, clothes (for camp??? What in the world do I wear to camp??) I was so irritated, sweaty, and rushed by the time we left our driveway at 5:17, I was convinced I should hand over the baton because there was nothing pastoral that I had to offer to AN-NE-BODY.
I silenced my kids on the way there. If I could have just a moment of quiet….
We arrived to camp, and because my husband knows me well (I forgot all the paperwork), he had begun the paperwork to sign us all in. They run family camp just like regular camp. Boys on one side of the lake, girls on the other. Bummer. Wait…. They run family camp just like regular camp. Boys on one side….girls on the other…. Guess what? I was in a cabin with 2 other moms of boys. Thank you Jesus for knowing what I need. My cabin was quiet. QUI-ET. Except for the excited chatter of three moms reliving their own camp days, our conversations dragging waaay past ‘lights out’. One of the moms even snuck out to meet her hubby (it was their anniversary). Camp felt exactly like it did in 7th grade, when I came to know
….and know that I am God…
Growing up in a pastor’s family, faith has always been a part of my life. Apparently, I asked Jesus into my heart when I was three. But it wasn’t until I went to camp as a middle schooler, all on my own, that I remember having a decisive faith experience. Where I encountered God in a way that was new and authentic. I knew that He is. I wish I had never wavered. I wish I had stayed the course and never went off track. But when I re-surrendered myself to Jesus 10 years later, I was transfixed back to that alter at camp, and I knew I had a fresh start. My….how His grace abounds.
It wasn’t until the ride home today that I realized how much I slowed down, how still I was, while at camp. I didn’t bring my computer, I didn’t check Faceboook or email, and I only texted Michael for logistical purposes. Okay, and once to tell him I was still madly in love with him (because he set up our coffee maker in the camp kitchen and programmed it so I would have good coffee each morning). Okay and once to respond to a hilarious text from Kelly, and one from Adair. But only swift responses…no conversations. Geesh….get off my back.
But on the way home, I felt like I was going so fast. I looked down at the speedometer and I was going 10 miles under the speed limit. After 3 days of only walking from one location to the next, my minivan felt just like a rocket. And I was in no rush to get home.
I didn’t speed up.
I just reflected, and still am, on my time at camp. On appreciating his creation. On walking. On rain. On walking in the rain. On singing with a guitar by a campfire. On humiliating myself in silly games for sheer fun. On building a family pine car and racing it. On meeting new people. On playing volleyball…(oh wait, I already mentioned humiliating myself.) On stepping out of my comfort zone. On going without (much) makeup (hey-I’m not a cavewoman). On letting my kids grow up a little. On conquering fear (climbing that ridiculously high tower and ‘sliding off’ the edge…having to put all my trust in a thin rope/harness and a 20-year-old belayer). On a camp staff who work like mules without grumbling or complaining. On joy. On Philippians 2. On becoming more like the servant Christ was. On Michael and the boys washing my feet. On me washing theirs. On Jesus washing Peter’s. On Jesus. On our new family mission statement. On the importance of being still.
It shouldn’t take camp to be still. It should happen regularly, I don’t know, like maybe weekly? What a brilliant idea. It should only take the Sabbath to come for me to be still. It should take me making an observation of something God commanded long ago. Of course, this camp time corresponded with my finishing Jen Hatmaker’s book, ‘7’, and the final chapter which focuses on stress, and our call to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Originally, the Sabbath had to be planned for, food gathered a day in advance. It wasn’t handed to the Hebrews on a silver platter. This principle remains. I still have to plan for the Sabbath, tying up loose ends and gathering what we’ll need. I still have to prepare the family for rest, enforcing healthy boundaries and protecting our calendar. I still have to set work aside and trust in the wisdom of God’s design. “Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath” (Exod. 16: 29).
Hatmaker, Jen (2011-12-19). 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (p. 216). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
What a gift is the Sabbath, to those who observe it. How I need to heed this command. O how I need to be still. For 6 days will I work, and on the 7th, I shall take time to honor my God. To ‘be still and know that I am.’
I better get busy preparing. Sabbath begins at sundown.