Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bears and Other Dangers

Each year when I go to youth camp, I come back changed. This year was no different. The way that God moved my kids (all 23 of them are "mine," regardless of parentage) is both humbling and inspiring to watch. Witnessing the brokenness that must happen before healing can begin is often painful, and fraught with messy, uncomfortable feelings that can either get in the way or pave the way for the work that God is accomplishing. We had more honesty and brutal transparency this year than ever before with these kids. Ranging in age from 11 to 17, we ran the gamut of wanting to know only when the snack bar would next open so we could get more nachos to those that clearly and deeply heard from God. The last day, while packing up, was when everything was brought into sharp focus for me.

When I am physically tired, I tend to cry quite easily. Tears are independent of whatever emotion I'm experiencing...I can be glad, mad or just plain stressed. I averaged about 4-6 hours a night of sleep this week, and the sheer physicality of camp made my body achy. Then there is the way that God grabs ahold of your heart and just wrings it a little as you listen to the difficulties in life these students are facing. My moment of truth, the event that brought my week into focus for me happened the last morning as we were packing up to leave. Usually at camp, we expect to have a single "cry night" where the kids, especially the girls, are broken. More kids go forward at the invitation that night. We had four out of four cry nights. I don't think there was even one of our kids who didn't go forward for prayer, healing or restoration at least one time, and many of them went forward every night. Our last evening there during our church devotions our kids trusted us with secrets and horrors and choices they had made thru that no one should have to face. The weight lifted off their shoulders as they realized the truth that Christ set us free for freedom, that it was paid for, over and done with, caused all to weep.

That next morning, while packing up, I came across a stuffed toy. It was a teddy bear. It came with clothes and accessories. And I realized that the child who had brought this, this sweet young teenager, should have been playing with dolls. Instead, she was being faced with life choices that as a 46 year old wife and mom I hope I never have to face. My heart shattered into a million little pieces for this fallen world and the children who look into the face of this screaming maw every day. Oh Daddies--where are you? Why do you allow your sons and daughters to be chewed up and spit out so? Why do you let your girls wear slutty clothes that cause them to devalue themselves and the treasure that they are? Why are your boys being subtly told that the more "conquests" they have, the manlier they are? Mommies--why do you emasculate your men and take away their desire to parent their own children? I don't think I'm naive. But I totally fell apart. This was my watershed moment.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that I feel that this is hopeless. On the contrary. After seeing the revival in these kids, I have hope for the next generation. They are strong and wise and willing. And they have huge hearts for God. This only stimulates me more to go to battle for them...to pray, to reach out to them and to hold them accountable. And remind them, yet once again of Proverbs 4:23.
Above all, guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life itself.

1 comment:

Jerralea said...

Awesome post! I think you did a wonderful job expressing what happens at Youth Camp. I especially liked the end where you asked parents why they weren't protecting their children. It may be because a lot of them don't know how to -- they were never protected themselves ....