So I am back from a 4-day youth camp where I and 4 more youth leaders facilitated 30+ youth campers. It was such an amazing, mind blowing learning experience. Who would’ve thought that being a leader could teach you so much about serving? Who would’ve thought that someone who has been going to camp since she was 12 years old, felt like she was just like one of the new campers?
The whole process of planning and preparing for this years summer camp has been truly a personal journey for me. Even at the start of the year, I already felt like this was going to be an adventure of understanding my identity in Christ. A journey I know I can’t do alone without Him. What happened in camp was just the beginning.
I’m grateful because I was given the time to get out of the city and just be in a place where I’m surrounded by God’s wonderful creations; a place where you can just sit still and immediately feel His presence everywhere. A lot of my questions were answered. And those who weren’t, He assured me and gave me hope that He will answer all of it in His perfect time.
I could tell you all of the things that I have learned during camp (there’s plenty of that) but it would take too long and too much for one post. So I’ve decided to just start one of the most important lessons that I have learned that struck me hard. And probably share to you guys about the others on my next coming posts.
It wasn’t a coincidence that my devotion the day before camp was teaching me that I am a jar of clay: that in the pressures of this world, I crack. But in Him breaking us, molding us and sculpting us in His own hands, we become stronger and new again. It wasn’t also a coincidence that I started reading the book of Galatians at the start of April -the start of camp. To make this short, everything was connected. Like everything I was reading, hearing and learning were all meant for me alone.
I thought I understood who He was. I thought I understood what He was telling me in the Bible. But I was way off the mark. Because I realized that God is not who I like to think He is. And that following Him was not how I think it was going to work. I thought by my works alone -my ideas and my zeal could justify or accomplish it. I thought by reading and understanding the words of men regarding His words were enough for me to understand Him. But I realized that it is in our willingness to trust in Him completely and not on our own understanding [Prov 3:5], in us relying on him and admitting that we can’t do it on our own. That it is by His spirit -His grace that we are saved through faith, and this is still not from us but a gift from God [ Eph 2:8].
We cannot earn it.
God does not love us more if we act a certain way. It doesn’t work like that. Because He already loves us unconditionally no matter what had happened, happens or will happens to us. Christ died on the cross for our sins even if we weren’t born yet. He has given us His grace even if we don’t deserve it. He saved us by giving His only son to die on the cross because He loves us so much and that He promised that we will not die but instead have a new life -an eternal life- if we believe in Him [John 3:16]; if we have faith in Him. Simple as that.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 ESV
It wasn’t also a coincidence that this was our summer camp verse either. He was teaching me right from the beginning that I no longer am the person I was. That I have a new identity in Christ. That I don’t have to prove myself to Him by my works or my knowledge alone. That whatever I do, I do it for Him, and Him alone.
He is more than enough.
Before, I valued the opinions of others. When that didn’t bothered me anymore, I became enslaved to the opinions of myself. I guess that’s where I started sugar-coating and justifying to myself who God is and how it all works. But as I stood one night during camp, gazing at the stars (I don’t get to see that many stars in the city) above, I understood what the statement above means for me.
When He died on the cross, He said it is finish. Our sins were already paid. We are no longer bonded to our old selves but redeemed by His blood. In the middle of realizing all of these, I found something that I thought I’d lost but was only buried deep down with all my worldly exhaustion. Something that I thought I could get back again on my own. Something that I’ve been praying for a while now.
The Lord knows how much I miss it. He knows how much I’ve been yearning for it. And with His perfect timing, I found the joy in serving Him again. I am no longer buried deep with all my frustrations and exhaustion but I am filled with the strength and joy that His Spirit could only bring.
Thank You, Lord.
I know that it is not by my strength nor by my power
but by Your Spirit
that I wake up every morning
thankful, joyful and hopeful.