My husband and I just dropped our three oldest kids off to a week of what some people call “church camp.” It is a week of pure fun and fellowship.
I know because back before I lived in a 51 week-a-year camp with all my own personal happy campers, I did the camp counselor gig. I loved it even as a counselor. You don’t sleep. You sing a lot. You make the best friends ever and you cry when it’s time to go home.
I also went a Christian college which was camp week on steroids. It was a continuous girl party after hours in the dorm. I didn’t sleep. I sang a lot. I made the best friends ever and I cried driving home til I reached the state line.
As I was driving away from camp today, I was really thankful my kids get to have this week, but there was also a tinge of concern. I hope they never substitute these experiences for a genuine relationship with God. I hope these moments of togetherness and camaraderie never replace intimate communion with the Holy One. And I hope that they always keep fellowship in its place and never worship it over worshiping the Lamb.
You say, well that would be kind of stupid. You don’t sit around the camp fire singing, “Fellowship loves me this I know” or “Fellowship is so good. Fellowship is so good. Fellowships so good. It’s so good to me.”
But what if our quest for these high caliber, emotional, fellowship experiences keeps us from seeking it with God himself? What if we get these supercharged spiritual highs and we don’t realize that intimacy with God provides a surpassing spiritual high?
How can that even happen?
No time alone
Whether it is camp or college, you don’t sleep alone, go the bathroom alone or shower alone. Everything you do is pretty much communal. Time alone is rare. Time alone with God has to be planned.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
There are devos around every corner. You can find an impromptu group of kids busting out with some praise and worship sitting on the steps, a park bench or under a tree. There are scheduled devotionals for boys, for girls and boys and girls. There is bible study and bible class. Then there is still your “regular” church stuff. A lot of time can be taken up with corporate worship. Sometimes we even feel guilty for participating.
But personal time worshiping the Lord is a total must. We can’t neglect our need for private worship because our time is filled with collective worship.
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Mt. 6:6
Sometimes when we leave these environments our real life seems too much. We get thrown back into a world where Jesus isn’t respected and morality is a joke. Sometimes we forget that the God at camp is the same God who is with us at school and work on the outside. That God can comfort and triumph in the worst of our situation. That God can shine even brighter in our darkness.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Josh. 1:9