Chatter, laughter, singing, shouting, the scrape-crunch of shoes on gravel, these are the melody and rhythm of camp. As familiar as my own reflection, they wake me up in the morning, keep me company all afternoon, and usher me into the twilight hours of every day spent at Falls Creek. I’m not exactly oblivious to it all, but it does take more than a “Marco-Polo” exchange or poorly sung Red Robin jingle to break through my consciousness by the time that sixth week rolls around.
That “more” happened today. I was half asleep, fingers resting on my keyboard, when a girl outside screamed, “MOVE!”
A large engine roared. Brakes squealed.
Someone else screamed “MOVE!”
Curious, I leaned back to look outside.
Wobbling my direction wearing shoes not made for camp, a young lady held everyone’s attention, but not for the reason she thought. Proud of her morning primp job, she welcomed the stares of smiling onlookers, either unaware of the fact that she was all alone in the middle of a street normally crowded with pedestrians or glad of it. Either way, caught up in her own glory, she failed to notice the big box truck bearing down on her.
Let me interject here and assure you that the girl was never really in danger. The speed limit through camp is 10 miles per hour, and pedestrians have right of way, no matter how long vehicles must wait for them to move. Every adult in camp knows this. Campers, on the other hand, do not.
“Brittany, MOVE!” a girl only slightly less made up than her center-stage friend called out from the shoulder of the road. Eyes big with concern, she walked parallel along the stone wall lining the street. Behind her, another girl shuffled dutifully, nursing an Icee and shaking her head.
Ignoring the warning, Brittany lifted a carefully curled mass of hair over one shoulder to better display her curling wand skills and smiled like a pageant queen even as she struggled to keep her balance.
“Britt, you’re such an idiot!” Icee girl called, rolling her eyes and taking another sip of Icee.
Still unaware of the “danger,” Britt responded to the insult in kind, almost losing her balance in the process. Far less concerned about Brittany’s welfare than the girl barking orders, Icee girl gave up and planted her backside on the stone wall with spectators, many of whom were enjoying a good laugh at Brittany’s expense at this point.
Big Eyes repeated, “MOVE!” but gave no further explanation or instruction. A few seconds later, she added “You’re gonna die!” with dramatic flair.
Confused and irritated, Brittany shrugged, palms to the sky.
It was too painful to watch. Just as I stood to go to the door, a lineman of a kid bellowed the obvious. “Hey! There’s a truck behind you!”
Startled, Brittany turned to verify, let out a squeal, and scurried Bambi style to the side of the road where she tried her best to blend in. The box truck passed, kids filled the street, and someone called out, “Marco!”
In light of recent events, this story has much to teach us.
Christians, I know the temptation to panic is strong right now, not because you don’t believe that God is in control anymore or that Jesus still has the power to save, but because the sky is growing dark. A spiritual storm is brewing and you sense time is running out.
Eternity is bearing down on us, and there are souls still standing in harm’s way. I get it, and I commend you for your passion and desire to see the lost come safely to Christ, but let me encourage you not to let your emotions get the best of you. Let’s keep our heads and go about things the right way.
Don’t bark orders. Don’t call names. Don’t make threats.
Don’t give way to fear, impatience, or disgust, or you will alienate the very people you want desperately to rescue. Instead, state the Truth of God’s Word plainly, get out of the way, and let the Holy Spirit do His work (John 6:44-45). They will either put their faith in Jesus or they won’t, but you can’t force them to safety, no matter how badly you may want to.
Non-Christians, I know that my brothers and sisters and I don’t always go about things the right way—in fact, being the works in progress that we are, we make some pretty stupid mistakes sometimes—but I hope you realize deep down that we really do care about you and that, ultimately, we do and say what we do and say because we don’t want to see you destroyed by the Enemy.
Regrettably, in our effort to spare you hurt, we often end up hurting you ourselves. I’m sorry for that. Believe me when I tell you that we get just as angry and frustrated with ourselves as you do and wish with all of our hearts that we were better representations of Jesus Christ. Someday, we will be, but, for now, you’re stuck with us, passionate, well-meaning, speak-before-we-think-sometimes us.
Here’s the truth we are trying to convey. God knows and understands you better than we do, better than you do yourself (Psalm 103:13, Psalm 139), and He loves you dearly in spite of the sin that is holding you captive (John 3:16). He doesn’t want you to be destroyed (2 Peter 3:9), so He sent His Son Jesus to ransom you from the Enemy (Romans 6:23).
Salvation from your sin and eternal security is free and available to you through the blood of Jesus Christ if you will accept it by surrendering your life to Him in obedience (Romans 10:9-13). If you take God up on His offer, He will adopt you as His child forever (2 Corinthians 6:18) and make you new from the inside out (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Not so sure about all this? I understand. I’m sure it sounds a little far-fetched if you didn’t grow up hearing it and watching it lived out, so I invite you to read the Gospel of John for yourself and verify what I’ve said. In fact, I beg you to do so and soon. Eternity is bearing down on us, my friend. Without Jesus, the danger is real!