"Rather than trying to write God into our stories, we would be wiser to sit patiently with our Father and let him tell us his. We would surely find ourselves in his story and learn that we are not defined by our hurts or our sins, as we may have believed. As he tells us his story, we must be willing to let go of the stories we've told to make sense of our lives. We must let his story rewrite ours and sweep us up into something much greater than ourselves."
- Mike Wilkerson, Redemption, p. 27
Wow, friends! It has been a week hasn't it!? It's been a lot to take in and to process, in more ways than one.
Nationally. Personally. It has been a time! And we've still got breath in our lungs, so I guess it's time to praise the Lord, right?!
Where is this Coming From?
This week I started reading a book that one of my dear pastor friends, Chris, recommended to me. And guys, I haven't even made it all the way through the introduction yet, and I am already humbled to the floor!
Freedom. It's a word that comes up a lot in conversation when I talk with my friends about camp.
Freedom to act and talk without fear of judgment. Freedom to question faith and explore doubts. Freedom from time. Freedom from work. Freedom from the responsibilities you have at home. Freedom from feeling like you have to start from the ground floor after not seeing someone for a while.
Freedom to be a part of something bigger than you.
The more that I grow and learn and walk through life (and life at camp/in the body of believers), I realize that this freedom does not exist apart from God.
Magic in the Air
I think when you're little and a camper, there seems to be something "magical" about camp. And usually my understanding for where that magic was coming from was my counselors. They were fun. They played games with us, laughed with us, talked with us about our lives. They were the coolest people I had ever met (I'd venture to say they still are).
But as I grew older, I started to realize that those people were just people. They made mistakes, did things that made me mad, and didn't always want to do what I wanted to do (what the heck?!). There wasn't anything particularly magical about them.
As a person especially inclined to require the affirmation and attention of others in order to feel good about myself, this threw me for a loop because I realized that in their imperfection, they could never make me feel completely full. They couldn't make me completely free like I thought they could.
There was one night when I was a senior camper that really pulled the rug out from under my ideas of power being found in my community alone. It was a particularly powerful chapel and as I was leaving I saw another camper, about a year older than me, lean with his back up against a tree, slowly slide all the way to the dirt, and crumple with his hands around his knees.
That was one of those moments for me where all the air kind of leaves your body and the Spirit of God floods in. And all of a sudden, you get the answer to the problem you've been trying to solve.
A Deeper Magic
Although God works through people and communities (which is definitely one of the amazing things His Spirit does at camp and is His plan for us together), what is really magical (or should I say supernatural) is that God is at work redeeming us.
He takes us in our shame, our confusion, our guilt, our heartbreak, our abuse, our feelings of worthlessness. He reaches to us in our addiction, apathy, and celebrations. He takes the times we slip and/or royally mess up and says we are no longer condemned or accused. We are free. Price is paid. We don't have to live there any more. And He takes the times we are sinned against and asks us to trust him to be the avenger of those things. Off our plates.
And He heals. Oh, does He heal! Like scraping the cancer away from our souls, bit by bit, He restores us to a new creation. He takes those situations we can't make sense of and hope maybe didn't even happen and gives them a purpose. He gives even those things significance.
He promises to never leave us or forsake us. Never. He swears. Even when we feel like He has, let's not forget who the main character is in this story. It always has been and will be God and he never forgets a single character he has created, we just need to keep listening to hear next chapter.
Listening to the Whole Story
One of the cool things that happens at camp is that we become more aware of God's story because we leave the distraction of our stories behind. We are spending time together in community and individually - praying, confessing, studying Scripture, and praising Him that He is who He says He. It is then that we start to hear the whole big, story.
I tend to think that the story of the universe is my story. What happens to me. What happens with the friends, family, and enemies around me. What happens at ECCO. What happens in my town and my nation. Do those things matter? Yes, of course! Does God work in those areas? Positively! However, God's story is both personal and perpetual. And though He cares deeply for us and every little thing that happens to us, we're gonna miss the whole ocean if we just keep staring at one piece of sand.
Sometimes we have to look up from what we're doing, stop staring at our problems, hurts, and ambitions, and realize, "Hey, this isn't my story."
There's freedom in that surrender...
"Your hope need not rest in making sense of it all; rather, you are invited to set your hope of redemption in the Redeemer."
- Mike Wilkerson, Redemption, p. 27
Here's an APA citation in case you're looking for a good read!
Wilkerson, M. (2011). Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.