Every few years when summer arrives my family gets the priceless gift of serving at a Young Life camp for a slice of time in the most beautifully maintained landscapes. We have served at camps all over the United States including British Columbia, Canada over our 15+ years of involvement with YL’s ministry. Through different seasons, my role has shifted into caring for our children while my husband Ben has a more hands on role in the flow of camp itself. I wrangle them from the cabin, to meals, to club meetings & keep them safe + sound, which is a feat (and a privilege!) with 3 kids 6 & under in a place that offers adventure upon adventure all day and night long! This year we packed up about a month ago to head to Sharptop Cove in Jasper, Georgia.
As soon as our car turned from the windy roadway into camp you could sense our kids wide-eyed & eager expressions bursting forth from their car seats! This camp we were assigned is nestled in the mountains of sultry Georgia, filled with winding creeks, southern sunsets, & lots of… snakes. Each camp has it’s own stories of frequent interaction with the wildlife that is unwillingly being invaded by high school + college students outfitted with Chacos, Nalgenes, & adventurous spirits. Ironically the large bears, including one that even shared too close of an encounter with my husband when we were in college, do not tend to scare me as much as the crafty serpents that lie on the forest floor. We were told to keep an eye out for copperheads, especially the babies as they tend to release all their venom if threatened & choose to bite. My greatest fear of camp this summer was no doubt these slithery snakes & their babies who I did not want interacting with my babies. I am reminded of Genesis 3 where Adam & Eve are indulging in the bounty of the plentiful Garden of Eden. They are shamelessly enjoying the bliss of the bountiful garden when along comes a crafty serpent. They were created with the freedom to enjoy the goodness, and then all shifted when they were affected by the snake’s schemes.
Similarly, driving onto a Young Life camp property reminds me of Eden! It is one of the closest experiences I have had to creation in its purest form in my lifetime. The lush forests, blooming hangings baskets, green grass, and immaculate rustic cabins cause me to stand in awe at our Maker’s creativity He places in mankind, to maintain such spaces here on earth. My kids hopped quickly out of our SUV ready to run wild + free and to explore their new home for the month! First stop was the shady castle-like playground complete with a climbing wall, slides, and even a zipline my oldest zoomed across a zillion times a day. What did I see? I saw cool corners, mulch & leaf piles, and an enticing creek. My heart sped up & my guard went up …. how would we survive this month snake-bite free if this would be our main stomping ground?
I felt the Spirit calm my anxious heart as it says in Philippians 4:6-7 & a flood of calm washed over me that surpassed all my understanding. Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. -The Message
As my three crazies fearlessly delved into the goodness of all that was built with them in mind, I had a little pow-wow with the Lord. I asked him to place a little protective boot over their ankles & for him to meet me in my weakness & to make me strong with His strength. I wanted to be brave & let them be kids with minimal limits, to form memories that would shape their character for years to come. I wanted to break cycles of anxiety that have plagued us all for generations. I knew this would take something Greater than me to withstand the temptation of living a life of fear at camp; versus surrendering over my beloved ones daily to the One who made everything from the crafty serpents to His very children who He loves dearly.
So we wore shoes more than I, and they, would have preferred, we wore headlamps walking back from the carnival up in the woods, and ultimately this mama entrusted my babies into the care of the One who is really in control. I learned that the real Serpent that was after my heart had a goal in mind as mentioned in John 10:10, Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. -The Message
I love that— “anyone who goes through me will be cared for — will freely go in and out, and find pasture.” How many times in this beautifully messy life do we miss the pasture because we are too concerned about what the future holds for us and our loved ones? How often do we focus on the crafty serpents waiting to attack & miss THE Serpent slithering around in our souls fooling us into believing our safety is up to us? It is clear, “a thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy” and he tried to wind his way into my heart to freeze me before I even got to camp this summer through all the rumors of Sharptop crawling with critters. I had friends praying for me to release the control before we entered the land & the Lord won. He provided the daily peace. Oh and my kids loved seeing the chopped baby snakes along our path somedays! FULL LIFE is what we experienced & I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A song we sang in club often sums it all up: