Thursday, June 11, 2009


I’m about to leave home for nine days. I’m not going to see my wife and my kids for nine straight days. There will be nine days of kisses and laughter I’ll miss out on… nine days of crayon drawings I won’t see, story books I won’t read and bedtime songs I won’t sing. I’m about to get on a bus with over 60 high school kids and eight adults and drive pretty much all the way across the US through the night. It will be uncomfortable, cramped and tough. It will also be lots of fun, but this is a scary trip for me. This is my sixth time to take high school kids to a week of Young Life summer camp and this trip will be more spiritually daunting than the others. That seems off, right? I ought to be getting better at this and more comfortable with all that is involved with a week of evangelistic camp, but I’m more frightened now than ever before.

I have one of the biggest cabins I’ve ever had… 13 guys to myself. On the one hand, this is extremely exciting and I am fired up about the opportunity to be in the lives of all these guys, but on the other hand, it’s a lot of dudes and I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of them don’t know our Lord in any way! When I look at the names of the guys in my cabin, I feel totally overwhelmed by the task ahead! I usually go into camp with my target on a couple of guys, maybe three or four at the most who I just know are lost and need the Lord. As I look at my list, my crosshairs contain nine or ten guys!!! Whew! It takes me a while to simply write all of their names down in my journal as I’m praying! As I look at what’s coming, I’m asking myself, “How am I going to make it away from my family for so long (especially as my family keeps getting bigger and more fun all the time!)? How am I going to do on that road trip physically? How is my body going to do at 9,000 ft.? And how in the world am I supposed to love on and pour into 13 guys in just 9 days and really connect with them?!? How in the world can these 10 lost boys be found?!?”

Recently I have been reading the Psalms of Ascents, which contains Psalm 120 through 134. These were the songs the Israelites sang as they journeyed three times a year to Jerusalem for the festivals God told them to observe there. These were their pilgrim songs they sang to praise the Lord, getting their hearts ready. They were the comfort songs they sang to fill each other with peace during the often dangerous journey. And they were the memorial songs they sang to remind themselves who they were, who God was and what He was doing in their lives. Today I read Psalm 127, written by Solomon, which says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” And my heart was pacified as I remembered that I am not responsible for saving these boys, God is building this house. I am not the one who protects my Christy and the kids, God watches over our little family.

As I was spending time writing out my prayers early this morning, I was praying for Christy and I was thinking a sentence that went like this: “Lord, please help her to…” but instead, without meaning to, I wrote this: “Lord, please help me…” I was praying for her, but instinctively my hand wrote, “help me…” This is what I’m learning from the songs of ascents. It’s what I’m learning as I go into yet another Young Life camp and it’s what I’m learning as I get older and our family keeps growing… that is, I am weaker than I used to be. I am less capable than I once was. I need more help everyday than I did the day before. I need God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth to help me.

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