By McKenzie May
In my last article, I wrote about a couple of the things God taught me through my time as a counselor at the Pine Cove Ranch in Tyler, Texas this summer. In my seven weeks with middle school campers, I can almost guarantee that God taught me just as much as He taught them. I’ve already written about dependency on the Lord and our job as faithful servants to share the Gospel, but here are two more truths that the Lord has placed on my heart to share with all of you.
1. The Lord is beyond patient with us
I worked on a high ropes course during camp. One day, I was working the ladder at the bottom to get the campers safely off the zip line. We had sent a boy through the course, and I could tell that he was extremely fearful. After tons of encouragement, he made it through the entirety of the course and was getting set up to zipline off when he froze and refused to go any further. At this point in the course, it’s either zip or get sent all the way back and be lowered down in a rescue fashion. Three of his other cabin mates were on the course behind him, and I knew if he wanted to be lowered down, we would have to send them back as well, and we would not have enough time for them to complete the course. I felt myself getting extremely frustrated with this seventh grade boy. As my coworkers in the trees ensured him of the ropes’ strength, the carabiners’ security, and the cables’ safety, the boy remained paralyzed.
I was livid. How could he not trust what we were explaining to him? How could he not realize that he was going to ruin the class for his cabin mates behind him? After twenty minutes of another counselor pouring into him, praying over him, and explaining the integrity of the ropes course itself, the camper made the decision to turn back. We lowered down his friends behind him, and he began the trek back through each element. Isolated on the ground, I was fuming. However, I got to observe the way my friends spoke truth to this terrified boy. Never once did they raise their voices, or show their frustration as he made his way back. They told him they were proud of him for making it that far, and that they were there to help him the entire way.
I could feel my heart softening as, after forty-five minutes, he was back on the ground again. After the class had left, I ran over to my two coworkers who had been with him, and encouraged them in their patience. One of them, Joshua, said he learned that lesson last summer when he worked in ropes. He said that we do the same thing to God every day: God lays out a plan for us, tells us that it’s safe, that He loves us and wants the best for us, and that it’s time for us to act. But there’s something that we still can’t get past, and we are fearful, and we can’t jump. God never gets frustrated with us. He never raises His voice, or makes us feel stupid for not being able to do it. He still loves us.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” -Psalm 103:8
2. Memorize Scripture
Writing scripture on ours heart is one of the most important things we can do as a believers. We use it to combat temptation, to offer advice, and to remind ourselves of God’s promises.
During my weeks at camp, I used it as my prayer.
When I felt my flesh failing, I recited Nehemiah 8:10.
“The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
When I felt like adversity was winning, it was Psalm 59:10.
“God will march out in front of me.”
When I had already belayed for hours and my fingers felt broken, I prayed Nehemiah 6:9.
“Lord, make my hands strong.”
Biblical guidance is a necessity. How can we know the path the Lord has for us if we are not immersed in His Word? The Bible is a gift to us, God’s people, and we need to take advantage of it.
To say that these are the only things that I took away from my time at camp would be a lie. The only way I could even begin to show you the radical heart change and growth I experienced at Pine Cove would be for you to go and experience it yourself. For me, applying to and accepting my position at Pine Cove was a huge step out of my comfort zone. I had to follow God’s call into the unknown, and it has paid off in huge, huge ways. I encourage you to go where God is leading you with open hands and an open heart. He will stretch and grow you, but He will provide. He is good, and we can trust in His plan.