Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Act of Rejuvenation: Returning from the Mountaintop

Rejuvenate: To restore to a former state; to make fresh or new again.

If you had asked me how I was feeling two weeks ago, I would have told you that I was feeling great. Now I realize that I would have been lying. Without knowing it, my body, mind, and spirit had been suffering. It was nothing serious. Nothing beyond the slow, yet persistent, deterioration that arrives silently like a whisper.

All right...enough of the artsy-fartsy writing! I wasn't as good as I thought I was. You get it.

My heart has been heavy with concerns for my family. Some of the hardest, most faith-testing challenges are happening to members of my family at the moment, and all I could do was pray. My own struggles continued as I dealt with finding direction, and all I could do was pray. But on the outside, I was throwing myself into work and being with the children. Whenever I was with them, the rest fell away for awhile. Not a healthy way to work by the way.

Lucky for me, I had two weeks of holiday! Woohoo!! And it was jam packed with awesome!

The rejuvenation process started with my body through the cleansing air of an ocean breeze. Steffi, Becky, Jessica, and I were offered a stay in someone's beach house for six days. For absolutely nothing! What a blessing! It was incredibly relaxing to wake up in the morning, pull the curtain, and gaze out over the beach and listen to the waves. We traveled all along the north coast, and one day, we ended up at a wonderful beach called Downhill Strand. It was the perfect beach for me. As soon as we arrived, I set off on my own for a bit of adventuring. What was great about this beach was the rock formations. They were perfect for climbing on. Just safe enough to climb on without too many worries, but just dangerous enough for Mom to get the wigglies in her stomach if she had seen me. So I climbed and climbed and climbed, and I was a happy boy!

Now, my other favorite bit from this portion of my holiday seems strange to me. There are many people who love to run. By themselves, with a group, whatever. That's not me. I used to be a runner, and I loved it because of my teammates and the competition. Now, there's just running for the sake of running, and that hasn't been my thing in a long while. But then I ran at the beach house. I ran along the beach, and I ran past some sheep. I ran along the cliffs with the waves crashing below me, and I just kept running. It was so...perfect. I didn't expect running to be a favorite part of my holiday, but in that place and at that time, it was exactly what I needed. I ran every day that we were there (until I stepped in a rabbit hole and twisted my ankle, but that's another story).

And so ends part one of my holiday. With less than a day of rest, I set off for a much anticipated week. Summer camp! Even across an ocean, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a week of camp, diving head first into a God-filled environment. There is absolutely nothing better than summer camp. I grew up attending Camp Mack each summer, and although I missed my own camp, Moyallon was as good a replacement as any. I guess it doesn't quite matter where or how camp takes place. The magic of summer camp is in being surrounded by like-minded people. A friend and I were discussing this and came to the conclusion that camp removes the feeling that any pretense is required. All artificiality drops away. I borrowed a book from this friend and read this relevant passage: "Jesus says, "Ye must become as little children." For little children do not compare; they receive direct enjoyment from what they have without relating it to something else or someone else" (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God). Forty young adults gathered for a week to worship, learn, explore, cry, heal, love, laugh, and simply be - together. And this was how my mind and spirit were rejuvenated.

The message that I took from camp was Longing for God. Before camp, my faith was at a standstill. I'm aware now that I wasn't really trusting God. My prayer life had all but come crashing down because of perceived unanswered prayers. Camp provided me a chance to be reinvigorated. I watched and listened carefully for moments of God speaking to me. And He came through (like He always does). He put me in the company of one of the wisest, most humble and faithful guys I've met. (That's you, George.) And I was given loads of resources to look into as I continue to ask questions. Another passage stood out from that Tozer book, and it was perfectly fitting for the camp theme. It read, "How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of 'accepting' Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible), and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls." "I am painfully conscious of my needed further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire, O God." This message punched me in the gut. Where's my desire? What happened to my thirst for God? Have I become content with accepting Christ rather than actively seeking God? Not anymore.

After a week of camp, I'm still on that "mountaintop experience" high that always comes after camps and conferences. I've set out a gameplan for when the high fades and everyday life works its way back in. At the start of this post, I wrote about my family and personal concerns and about how I felt like all I could do was pray. Now, I am two weeks removed from that time and feeling, and the situations are the same. But one thing has changed. Before, all I could do was pray, but now, all I can do is pray. That little change in emphasis and a newly rejuvenated spirit make all the difference.

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