I can't believe it's finally here. The weekend I used to look forward too as a child for so long mostly for the hopes of Easter egg hunts, coloring eggs, and a special church service, has arrived. Good Friday has just passed and resurrection Sunday is here. It's the weekend we as a church dedicate to Christ's death and resurrection on a cross. A weekend we try to focus extra hard on the purpose of His death and how it changes life for us as Christians for all of eternity.
I can't help but meditate over the last few weeks and this semester and think that it was hard. That my life right now is in a place I never thought it would get. This semester has possibly been one of the darkest semesters of my college years and maybe my whole life, not specifically for one reason, but I've just been struggling through some things. Today though, as I helped with Sonrise, God reminded me of what He's done in my life and some ways He has worked in me and He reminded me that He will finish the good work He has started.
I think so often we hear the stories of Jesus yet we do not experience them. We hear about His death on the cross for us, so many times, that we may forget the power and the glory. We become numb to experiencing the emotional experience of what Jesus' death and life mean for us. In this way, acting is so powerful because when we can truly see and hear, we realize this is real. This is not just a children's story or a fable but this is my life, my destiny, and my Savior in His hands and He went through this for me. The thing I can say from the bottom of my heart, is that it is well in my soul and that is only because of Christ alone because He has defeated all darkness for my sake.
As I helped with Sonrise for a few hours yesterday ( which is an amazing, immaculate production of Jesus's death and resurrection), God reminded me of a huge miracle He did last summer for me and for Wewoka Woods camp. Last summer when I was spiritual director I had the opportunity of co-producing a drama called "The Story" which was a day two journey through the past to meet people whom Jesus' life changed and then ultimately to meet Jesus and experience His death and resurrection.
I think for me I will never be able to describe the way this story changed my life. Never before has His story became so real: Jesus' sacrifice and the glory in the hour of His death. There were just so many miracles that went on week after week behind the scenes in the production of the skit and just in the story itself that I saw God in a whole new way.
It was one hour before the story and none of the cast was dressed. We were down three actors for the play and we had three brand-new people subbing in. 30 minutes later, we were all running wild, putting on the costumes, the makeup, trying to get ourselves and some of the new lines together. Something is wrong we thought. The atmosphere is different. Soon the blind campers had arrived and our program was still in shambles. We must start with what we have.
The play needed to begin. The blind campers were waiting. We gathered together and prayed and joked that we should pray some more.Then the story began.. just like it had many weeks before. The campers' met Jesus and walked with him..
The Last Supper, then the Garden of Gethsemane. As I paused in my lines, I heard one of the adult blind campers' crying out to God "Why? Why did you suffer for us Jesus? He did it all for me." He was yelling out to God, vocalizing the intense feelings that many campers felt in their hearts.
Then came the trial and the walk to the cross. The walk was down a steep hill and we tried to see if a golf cart would make it down the trail, but our efforts failed. As the music played we wondered how we will get some of the campers down that hill. Then two of our male staff had an idea.
"Could we carry you? they asked *Sarah one of the campers who couldn't walk? Yes, she smiled with relief, eager to participate and see Jesus' death. Gently, carefully, step by step they carried Sarah down the rocky hill and gently placed her on the bench.
Jesus began to die and the sky began to darken. As we heard the final cries of Jesus, it all went quiet. The pastor began to make His call. After His call *Henry walked up and looked at Jesus. He cried out to Him "Father father I have sinned against your name. He began to cry out to God for forgiveness and talk to Jesus on the cross.
I stood beside *Henry in my angel costume. It was an awkward- yet beautiful moment and all the camp staff watched from afar curious of what was going on. Finally *Henry quieted down and asked for prayer. I stood beside Him as we prayed and thanked Jesus for His sacrifice for us and resurrendered our lives to Him.
My heart was heavy as I listened to His prayer and I longed for the honesty and genuine of this man. I wondered at his dedication. The way He ran to Jesus. The way He talked to Him. The way He didn't care what others thought of Him as He knew He must talk to His Savior.
My heart knew only one thing "this is why I'm here." This is the best part of camp: telling the story of Jesus. And I longed within me to break down and cry at Jesus' feet just like this man beside me. My heart felt heavy as I realized summer camp was ending. Today is my last day with the blind campers, and after that all we have is camp meeting.
How did summer camp change me? Did I make an impact in any of the staff or campers' lives? I don't know yet and maybe I'll never understand the full picture until the day Jesus comes again.
One thing I can say for sure is the story changed my life the most- this play- that started as only an idea that we doubted could really happen- became the highlight of camp. And I want this story- His story to be the gold and the stage and the heart cry of my life forever.