It’s been a really amazing week here at Teen Camp! We have over 8o senior high campers out at Lake Agape, and so far, it’s been such a blast!
The theme this year is “Free to Be”. We’ve been looking at how we can find our freedom in Christ in so many different ways. We are free to be unplugged. We are free to be loved. We are free to no longer be slaves to our sins. We are free to be offerings. We are free to be children of God.
One of my favorite things about Teen Camp is always the Wednesday morning activity. On sleep in day, the staff always prepares an amazing surprise, which tends to become a spiritual highlight of the week. Last year, we looked at how people in some third-world countries live their lives by physically walking around camp “in their shoes”. However, this year, things got a little more introspective.
This year, students and staff walked barefoot around camp in a set of pre-ordered stations. Each station had a task that was going to make you think. The first station my group went to asked, “What is it that separates me from God?” After some time to think it over, we were asked to write down a word a phrase that symbolized the thing that separates us from God on the top of our feet with a washable marker.
The next station my group went to was a station that was asking us: “How do I see myself?” There, students were asked to grab a mask, and on the inside, they were to write three things they thought about themselves. It could have been positive, negative, or even neutral, but it had to be honest. On the outside of the mask, was the following Hebrew phrase: ahuvah. In the third station, we were asked to look at ourselves in mirrors for 10 minutes, thinking about how we, others, and Gods sees us.
After each group was finished with their third station, we all moved towards the beach. Set up at the beach were 9 chairs and 9 buckets of water. From there, counselors each took a spot at a chair, and had their students line up and began washing their feet.
This week, I have the privilege of serving as a Teen Camp counselor to some pretty wonderful senior high girls. I’ve seen foot washing so many times, and read about in the Bible. I’ve seen it at weddings, and even at camp before. Yet, for the first time, I was taking part in it.
Getting the chance to wash my camper’s feet was emotional. As I watched the words they had written on their feet earlier dissipate into the water, I felt closer to God and was able to see even a small, microscopic percent of how much He loved us. He humbled himself to come down into the earth, to bring us redemption. Because he loves us.
After the student’s feet were washed, we gathered around the flag pole in front of a giant cross. One of the teachers this week began to share a story about a 14th century painting that was done by a Russian artist. It’s called “The Trinity”, and it depicts three angels in a triangle to represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What some of the researchers who discovered the painting were trying to figure out was why the artist left glue residue right in the center of the painting. Their best guess? The artist had intended the painting to have a mirror affixed to it, right in the center of the Trinity. We asked the student’s to bring us their mirrors, and as they did, we began fixing them upon the cross.
You see, it doesn’t matter how we see ourselves, our how our friends, families, schools, or even sports teams view us. It doesn’t matter if we think we aren’t good enough. It doesn’t matter if we believe that God can’t really love us. You past doesn’t matter. Your failures don’t matter.
We are free to be because God calls us ahuvah. And you want to know what that means? Beloved. In Christ, our identity is a beloved, child of God. And that’s really all that matters, isn’t it?