You have just arrived at Sharp Top Cove, an amazing Young Life camp in Georgia. They say “it’s the best week of your life” and in a lot of ways it is! You will have fun pretty much starting at the moment the bus pulls into camp. The week ahead will be full of adventures, late nights and words of truth. A camp speaker will do their best to communicate how much God loves every single person there and His desire for a relationship. Everyone will hear about sin, the cross and Christ being made alive again. You know and have accepted all of this, but maybe the girl next to you doesn’t. The guy behind you may be worn out from striving to be something he isn’t and this week is a great escape. The girl who stands in front of you in the line to the snack shop, might have made so many mistakes that she has no idea how the God she is hearing about could possibly ever forgive her. That boy who is loud and tries to get attention at every turn, he might hear for the first time that God loves him, sees him and there is no need to fight for His attention.
Maggie, your commitment to Christ is astonishing! You love Him and are very secure in His love for you. When you have this, you live differently and make different decisions. I watch as you have become more confident in who He is shaping you to be and following the plans He puts in front of you. Since you already know Him, pray for the kids that don’t. Their eternity could be changed forever this week. I pray your eyes and ears are attentive to those around you and your heart breaks for those who don’t yet know Him. I pray you come home with an even greater boldness to share Him with others. Bring all of the excitement home from camp and keep stepping into His adventures.
I know I’ve told you lots of times, but I am so proud of you! There is no way to go back in time and undo my teenage years, but I wish I would have been just like you, especially with your curly hair. You see, there is a bit of me in the lost kids you encounter this week. I once was that high schooler experiencing camp for the first time. What a difference it made in my life! I will forever be thankful for the summer of 1992 and my week at Frontier Ranch. When they give you 20 minutes to go outside and be alone with God, look up at the stars and worship the One who created them. Those stars are the ones I looked up at all these years ago and told God I belonged to Him. I told Him that I was finished living for myself and it really wasn’t working anyways. I wanted to return back to Him.
You see, when we moved to North Carolina from Mississippi the summer before my 8th grade year, a huge part of me stopped pursuing God. Oh, there isn’t any doubt that I was still a Christian, but I quit living like one. Our church and friends had been an enormous part of my life and all that was now gone. I tried to keep learning on my own. I would sit beside my bed and read my Bible, but nothing was making sense. School was not fun and friends were few. Church was even worse. It took a year of trying to keep it all up, but I remember telling the Lord that I was putting Him on a shelf and would pick Him back up when I was older. You can never put the God of the universe on a shelf. However, I tried and set being popular at school and church as my goal.
Popularity came and so did the inner struggle of conviction. When Young Life arrived at my high school, a rescue plan was soon to unfold. It took time, but my Young Life leaders pursued me and were always happy to see me. My friends and I looked forward to attending the weekly “club” meetings. When the opportunity came for me to go to camp, I was excited! Little did I know the impact that week would have on my life. I heard stories about Jesus, sang fun songs and just played. We hiked, shopped and let our guards down. One leader in particular, was so open about her relationship with Jesus that I had to experience what she had for myself. I wanted God not to be on that shelf anymore.
The night that I sat under the stars, outside of the store no doubt, was powerful. I knew the Lord had forgiven me and our relationship would be restored. “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” (2 Samuel 22:17,20). That pretty much sums it up.
Fast forward and I am at another Young Life camp, working as the office intern the summer of 1998. In walks a boy from Texas, who was on assignment there for the month working as the “outdoor crew boss”. He asked me to make a transparency (I’ll explain what that is when you get home) of the worship songs he would be leading later that morning. We ended up dating and he told me about a job with Young Life in Fort Worth, Texas. I somehow got that job and my parents moved me all the way from North Carolina to Texas. My boss just happened to be the speaker from camp when I was that high schooler.
Years later and lots of life lived, I am still walking with the Lord and falling more in love with Him everyday. And that Texas boy is now my husband of 18 years and you are the oldest of our 7 children. So, Young Life played a huge part of my story and yours too, Maggie. I cannot wait to see the part it plays in yours!
I love you,