I've just finished my fifth year of camping with Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries — this year backpacking for a week. My camping experiences revolutionized my life.
I've attended worship every Sunday for as long as I can remember. I sat through Sunday school and participated in the discussions, but I wondered when we'd get to the fun part. I enjoyed the parts of worship where I could participate. I memorized the liturgy. But at sermon time, I'd occupy myself with paper and pencil, drawing the sanctuary as viewed from the balcony.
My first year at Carol Joy Holling Camp in Ashland, Neb., completely blew me away. Suddenly Jesus wasn't just the guy mentioned a million times throughout the service. He was real and living right inside me. I'd been told that — now I felt it. The camp songs were catchy and meaningful. The hikes and crafts related to Jesus. The worship service locations were gorgeous and pointed directly toward God. But it was the in-depth Bible studies that woke me up by relating the word to my life. I discovered there was a reason that Mom and Dad discuss and memorize a new verse with me each week. Everything was put into perspective — it was so clear.
I kept thinking, "Amy, that same man in the stained-glass window — he died for you. Shouldn't you start living for him?"
I had tons of stories to tell upon returning home. I stopped adding to my collection of sanctuary designs. I listened to what I was saying when reciting the liturgy. I asked more questions during Sunday school. I found a friend in Jesus.
Each year I return to Sullivan Hills Camp in Lodgepole, Neb., and witness the same experiences. Each day God and I get a little more personal. Each second God encourages me to witness the extraordinary love God shows me.
"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).
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