Sitting on the porch this morning enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the birds singing. I was feeling a little sorrowful, missing my sweet mama. I closed my eyes to think and pray. In the silence, with the birds and the bugs as background music, I could hear the humming of the ceiling fan. My mind was taken back to earlier days, a memory from many years ago. Back to simpler times; family camp. Famous for its tabernacles with no walls and NO air-conditioning in the dorms. Where you sleep on beds that are as old as your grandma and fight off flying insects the size of small birds. (Thank goodness for Lysol and Off bug spray, two staples for any family camper.) An event that always takes place in the middle of the scorching hot summer and usually in the midst of a drought. (Did I mention there was no air-conditioning?) Some of you will have no idea what I’m talking about, but if you’ve ever been, it’s burned into your heart and mind forever. Families from near and far gather to hear the word of God and spend time together, encouraging one another for several days before heading back home to face reality. And when I say time together, I mean it. Morning chapel, meal time, swim time (Boys and girls separately, of course. Although, I am not sure why, we all knew the boys were hiding right around the corner.), snack time and evening church. I can remember as a little girl sitting on those hard wooden pews, sawdust or dirt on the tabernacle floor, (concrete if you were lucky) hotter than hades. Listening to the preacher as he spoke passionately about salvation (and hades). You know, I was too young to understand most of what he said, but I remember feeling like it must be important. Those are sweet memories, and I realized this morning that they’re more than just memories, it’s where my faith journey began. Sitting on that bench, fanning myself desperately with a paper fan (no doubt donated by a local funeral home), sweat dripping down my back and scalp, desperately wanting the preacher to be done. It’s where this faith I cling to was planted and began to grow. I never would have believed that until these middle years of my life (40’s is the middle, right?). I see now how it all fits together. I understand how the small things, things that made up everyday life, that didn’t really stand out then, can be defining factors now. They have become milestones, my history. I can see how the Lord used it all to bring me to this exact place, sitting here on my back porch listening to the fan hum and talking to the One who has sustained me and made all the difference. So, (and I speak as one with experience of this less and less heard of tradition) if you’re wrestling little kids on a church pew, fighting them into Sunday School class, or watching them perch on a hard bench fanning profusely at family camp, don’t lose heart. Church, no matter what form it takes is important. It will pay off. They’re getting it, sooner or later the seed that’s being planted will grow. God is faithful.
Isaiah 55:11 “my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
If you’ve ever been to family camp, I would love to hear from you! Best memory or what it meant to you? Did it make a difference?