Middle School Camp 2
We were blessed with another large group of kids for Middle School Camp 2. Fifty-five crazy, beautiful, and hilarious 6th to 8th graders. For our last Camas Camp of the summer, we set out to provide the pure delight of a week chock-full of fun in the forest combined with incredible teaching from God’s word.
Sadly, these girls were completely sorrowful and somber and totally bored on the 100 foot camp slip-n-slide.
Ha ha! No, they were so fun and enthusiastic, I have way too many pictures of them. Jr. Highers are just the best!
Our camp speaker for Middle School 2 was Faramir. And for this rowdy horde, he spoke on the life of David.
“God often chooses the unpopular, the weak, the stinky, the poor, the outsiders, the anxious, the fearful” –Faramir
How many of us felt like this in Jr. High? Well, as they jumped into David’s story, the campers got to see that God is very much interested in what is underneath our awkward clothes, abysmal social skills, and lack of hair-brushing prowess. God looks at the heart!
Why does God choose simple, unimpressive people? Why did God anoint the youngest brother, that scrawny shepherd boy, the one so forgettable that his own father left him off his list of sons when chatting with the powerful and respected prophet Samuel?
To show His glory!
No, pause a moment and really let that sink in. Our lack, shows God’s power. Our weakness, reveals God’s strength. Our averageness or even below-averageness, showcases God’s greatness.
Now that is exactly what we got to see this week.
God, doing amazing things, with ordinary people
One guy counselor noticed his campers jumping off the dock at Lake Chelan. He came and joined them, urging everyone to jump in superhero poses. They perfected The Ironman, Hulk Smash, and Batman in jump after jump together.
One of the boys had a hard time getting into the activities as a first-time camper. He resisted the camp counselor’s enthusiastic efforts to get him involved and having fun. It was one of his fellow campers who marched him around from activity to activity and finally convinced him to give camp a try. When we saw his nervous face break out in smiles, it was a sight glorious to see!
From large accomplishments, like finishing the Ga Ga Ball Court after years of dreaming, to small moments such as taking the time to play a boardgame with a child who wasn’t excited about getting wet, acts of love both big and small were a backdrop to the chapel sessions about the life of a simple shepherd boy turned king.
From cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night to limping around camp to locate an absent camper, the counselors consistently showered the campers with God’s love. Knowing that someone will call the nurse and take care of your mess, realizing that instead of being mad your counselor is actually a listening ear and someone who understands, as these young leaders gave of themselves in a continuous stream of little moments during the week they were used greatly by our powerful God.
Like when Orchid took her campers on a hike to The Frog Pond and in a joyful gust of spontaneity, they all jumped into that murky water for a swim!
Or when none of Hiccup and Randalf’s campers were tired and so they read out loud to them, from Leviticus, about how exactly one used to clean up their house after a mold infestation! Hint: in involves painting the walls with a live bird instead of a brush!
Making a bracelet for someone else, listening, sweeping the dirt paths between the cabins and the tube hill for cabin inspections (yes, you read that right. They actually swept dirt!), going on a night hike, Shine jumping around the corner to say, “You’re pretty!” or Zooboomafoo jumping (literally jumping) in to lead motions and increasing the energy in the room by about 400%. It truly is little things, done well, with honesty and consistency that make a difference with kids.
Campers bravely stood during the campfire on the last night and said things like, “I was welcomed with open arms.” Or even, “My favorite moment of this week was learning to grow closer to God.” It is amazing to watch God at work with a group of simple, everyday people. The last image from camfire was this, one camper proudly standing alone, raising his arms and singing the last song after everyone else was sitting down.
The life of David gives us hope in so many different ways. It is often in Jr. High that we begin to feel the terrible weight of our own mistakes, and so often at this point, we question God’s love.
But God is careful to record even His follower’s worst errors in His word, so that we are not left floundering and without hope when we fail.
After facing down giants, David stayed home from the war and sneaked a peek at a beautiful woman bathing in the seclusion of her own roof. His staff pointedly mentioned that she was the wife of one of his famous Mighty Men, and yet he ordered her brought to him, got her pregnant, and arranged for her husband to be abandoned on the battle field and killed. David, the man after God’s own heart, pretty much waged a war upon his own honor.
What now? David had betrayed God in a truly epic fashion. According to 2 Samuel 12, he despised the word of the Lord. Instead of a quick smiting, God sent the prophet Nathan with a story about a rich man and a beloved lamb. When David rages at the horrors brought upon this fluffy innocent (that would be Bathsheba) Nathan utters those chilling words:
“You are that man!”
And it is this moment that should give each of us hope, whether we are struggling through Jr. High or 7th grade seems like a lifetime ago. It is this moment that teaches something incredible about the love of God. David, broken with sorrow, repents. And God forgives! Even crimes like these, He shows mercy when He sees what is in David’s heart.
God anointed a shepherd boy as king because of what was inside, not what others could see. Then He boldly forgave a sinner of epic proportions, because of the broken heart that David offered up to Him. David’s life is full of struggle and mistakes, but in the end, he always came rushing back to God.
Whether we are full of dramatic flair, awkward bumbling, blemished skin, unexpected beauty, or agonizing difficulties with math, God is not looking at our surface. He sees the heart. Faramir made sure that these lively campers know this great truth about the Lord.
Life isn’t always easy.
Sometimes our own mistakes add to the mess. Sometimes the mistakes of others splash over into our lives. Sometimes there is no greater good in sight and a thunderstorm hits the Ga Ga Ball court for no apparent reason.
But from the life of David we can be sure of several things. God values what is inside.
He works with incredible power in the humble, small, fragile people who follow Him.
And though we stray, even when we make incredible mistakes …
He has the strength, grace, and mercy needed to get us back where we need to be.
Though the journey is difficult, and sometimes embarrassing, we are always at our best when we are safely in His arms.
He is the one who knows us best and looks upon the heart!
1 Samuel 16:7–“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”