“I dont want to go!” “Too bad.”

“I don’ t want to go to camp for the summer,” I told God as I wrote those words down in my Moleskine.

I took a sip of my coffee, watched the other students as they walked by, and hummed along with the catchy tune that was emanating from the speakers in Moody’s coffee shop.  “I dont want to go to a place where I need to cater to rich white kids who ball their eyes out that they did not get their third kit-kat for the day.  I want to be used, to learn something, to contend for the Gospel.  God please allow my Seattle plans to work out.  I see it as the best way to use my summer.  Please work and move to make it happen.”

I placed my pen on the table, took another sip of my black coffee, and thought about what I had just written. I did not want to go back to camp.  It was not that my last summer was bad but I simply felt that I was not used by God a whole ton.  I wanted to do something with my summer that would be worth my time.  I wanted to be used by God to transform lives.  I was frustrated that He was sending me back to Covenant Harbor Bible Camp in Lake Geneva Wisconsin.

Despite what I prayed God told me no, I wont send you where your heart is telling to you go.  I will send you here.

And To be honest, I was bitter.  I was bitter that God ignored my plans.

Have you ever had someone say something that you know is the right thing so it plagues your mind?  How about when you think you are totally justified in your feelings or actions and then someone asks you a pointed question that you wish you could get out of your head?  As soon as the question leaves their lips, you know that you were in the wrong.  You know that truth is being spoken to you.  Well, that happened to me.

Before school ended for the summer, my first year at Moody, my mentor Steve Ringelspaugh asked me one of those pointed questions.  While we were talking about my anger at not being placed where I desired he asked me, “why do you think that God is sending you back to a place where you feel that you do not have much of an impact?”

And there it was.  That question haunted my mind all summer long.  It consumed much of my thoughts and revealed much in me that I did not feel like eradicating.  It showed me the true nature of my heart.

Regardless of how I felt, I was obedient.  I mean, I had read the story of Jonah before.  I did not want to entertain the possibility of being swallowed up by a big fish only to be spit up back on land to do what God originally called me to do.  I followed and stepped foot back on Covenant Harbor property as camp counselor for the summer of 2010.

The first couple weeks of the summer was tough.  I was still battling the bitterness that I had at God.  It took me well into week 1 to realize that the bitterness I was feeling at God was stupid and ignorant.  God, many times, kept reminding me that the time I was calling “my time” and the desire to have an impact which I held on to so tightly, God actually calls His.  He reminded me that my life was purchased.  My life is not my own.  And that means that my time is not my own, nor is my impact.  God, through sleepless nights, tough campers, my own sin, and mirrors in other staff showed me that God owns it all.  He owns and orchestrated the summer to show me how much I was fooling myself.  I was fooling myself into thinking that it was I that needed to have an impact; it was I that needed to make my time matter; it was I that would lead well.

So I got on my knees and begged God to do something in me. I begged Him to remove the bitterness, self reliance, anger, jealousy, pride, self exaltation, and the glory I was trying to thieve from the one who created me.

And let me tell you…this summer was unlike any other. It was a beautiful, Gospel centered, messy, redemptive summer.

I just got back yesterday.  I had spent all night hanging out with the staff for one last hurrah before we parted ways to return back to our schools, homes, and the real world.  This staff, became a team this summer.  I originally didn’t feel like joining the team.  Remember that bitterness I mentioned earlier?  One of the ways it reared its ugly head was in alienation.  But God pursued me.  In many ways He forced me to be real with some other men on staff.  I voiced my concerns and my harboring sins that He was working on.  The men I talked with prayed with me and then kept me accountable.  I had walked into a true community.  I don’t think any of us were prepared for it but I feel God knit many of us together in ways that are unexplainable.

You could see the power of the community show itself when trouble hit.  Like when someone was having a rough day.  Or when someone was discouraged.  Or when someone was insecure in their giftings or had an impossible camper.  The community of believers knew the hope that they had been called to and with the love of Christ ministered to itself and then onto the kids. It was a powerful thing to see.  I mean where do you hear about a bunch of college students getting together to do hard work for the Gospel?

Not even mentioning the kids whose lives were changed as a result of the staff’s devotion to service, the staff itself was a beautiful mosaic.  There were people on staff who I became best friends with who, normally because of our circle of friends, I wouldn’t probably have even known.

I got to see day camp counselors mature and embrace the authority needed to counsel rambunctious 12 year olds.  I got to see Godly women show us guys what a real woman is made of: the heart of Christ and the mind set on the Spirit.  I saw one guy switch schools because He felt such a strong call by God to enter the ministry.  One woman is also thinking about switching her major because she also feels God calling her to vocational ministry.  Guys who were passive leeches in the church came alive and boldly proclaimed the Gospel.  One dude, whom I greatly admire, stepped in faith into a position where He knew God was calling him but was reticent to respond in kind.  On and on the stories go.  Each story testifies to the glory of God using obedient, broken people and transforming them into messy, God glorifying, Gospel centered individuals.  Examining the lives of staffers showed me that sometimes, I think summer camp is more for staff than for kids.

So God, thank you.  Thank you for changing me this summer.  Are the changes something that people will see all the time?  No. But they’re there. They are incisions that God made on my heart to remove something deadly.  Thank you for showing me the power of community.  Thank you for placing me there this summer even when I dragged my heels.  Thank you for answering the prayers and uniting this staff so that you could give us all a glimpse of what happens when people unite around the Gospel.  Thank you for revealing to us the majesty and worthiness of your name as you took a ‘motley crew’ and turned us into a living breathing community.  And, Father, we beg you to do it again.

So I know this is ridiculously long.  The word count keeps going up.  I am sorry for that.  This is not the summer update I intended to write, I suppose that will have to come later.  But for all 6 of you that are still reading, thank you.  Thank you for praying for me and for the team.  Thank you for being a part of my story.  Thank you for begging God on my behalf that He would move in me, change me, teach me, humble me.

Overall, I am elated that I went back to camp.  It was painful to say those goodbyes yesterday.  But behind each goodbye I said, I also said a silent thank you. I thanked God for pushing me into this.  His grace is overwhelming.  While I was a self serving prick, Christ bought me and continually taught me.  He showed me, firsthand, more of His Gospel and its power to change lives.

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Posted in Newsletter
9 comments on ““I dont want to go!” “Too bad.”
  1. Stacey says:

    It was awesome hearing how God worked despite your wrestling with going back. I was encouraged and amazed again by how God moves and leads for His glory and our growth–especially when our human perspective cannot understand what He is doing! Thanks for sharing! Hopefully I can hear more sometime.

  2. Josh Lee says:

    I am one of the 6 people who actually read this whole novel. All I can say is “I told you so” haha I knew God was going to use YOU in a powerful and through using YOU he changed YOU! Love you man and I am so proud of you!

  3. Lauren R says:

    Chris, I’m so glad to read this. Your blog post popped up on my Facebook and I had to see what He was doing. 🙂

    The Lord is so faithful to use us even when we don’t deserve it. I’m so glad He is continually redeeming us and showing up in our lives. I’m so glad he is doing that for you. Every step we take in our walk with Him opens up new levels of wisdom and Truth that we didn’t see before. I’m happy He’s consistently teaching you new things. He is always blowing my mind with new Truths about Him and myself.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Derek Hiebert says:

    Chris,

    Praise be to Jesus for the work of his Spirit in your heart and life this summer. I love reading your posts and updates, brother. Thanks for your vulnerability to be candid and transparent – evidence of the gospel of God’s sheer grace to you despite your sin. I look forward to what he has in store for you this next school year and beyond. Praying for you.

    Derek

  5. Allison Reynolds says:

    Chris Lash…blogs are my favorite and I absolutely love reading them so when I saw you had one I couldn’t not peak 🙂 First of all….you are an extremely talented writer….I was captivated the entire time I was reading. You are extremely gifted with your words 🙂 I was touched by your words! I am only sad that I didn’t have the opportunities to hear your heart in person and in your own voice! I praise God for your obedience and your ministry at CHBC. You were influential in the creation of the community you experienced and I truly believe you ministered to the staff in ways you don’t even know. You are being prayed for my friend and I stand beside my comment to you that God has a high calling for you!!!! Continue having a heart of obedience and having open eyes for God’s abundant blessings 🙂

  6. Number 7 (Jim S) says:

    Chris,

    So far, you or your words have been a blessing every time I’ve crossed your path!

    Josh…way to be in his face! (And linked to his heart.)

  7. Chris Lash says:

    Thank you all very much. I appreciate it more than you know!

    • Mom says:

      Again, you amaze me. I too an one of those 6 people still reading.

      You are a gifted writer–who would have guessed when I couldn’t get you to put 3 sentences or an outline together :-). Big things are in the present and future. Glad I get to be part of it and watch you mature.

      I am so glad God did not give me peace about your Seattle desire. God had a plan all along for your time and he made sure it happened. I am also very blessed to have a son that is obedient and compliant to where I feel God is leading me in my parenting. Rather than you submitting to my decision not to let you go to Seattle, you could have rebelled and look how God blessed your submission.

  8. […] So I was pretty bummed. However, Derek was optimistic that things would work out for the following (this) summer. And for the summer of 2010, I went to CHBC. Turns out God knew what He was doing and my frustration simply made me look foolish. “But I don’t want to go to camp!” “Too bad. Trust me, this WILL draw you to … […]

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I am fighting to believe.
My fight is the fight to believe. I also fight to rest and have joy in my God.
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