Friday, June 18, 2010

God is bigger…

I’m writing this at summer camp, which is both exhilarating and exhausting. As you may know, our church’s Regional Camp Ministry asked me to direct this week’s Equestrian Camp- my first ‘directing’ experience (I’ve counseled and camped before, but never been the head honcho). Before you ask, no, I know next to nothing about horses. But I’m learning…

In fact, that’s what I want to write about this week- learning; more particularly, learning about God. It is, after all, the theme of our Camp- God! We began on Monday by talking about who we already imagine God to be, and for the remaining days will explore what more we can learn about God through certain unique, important area of life: ourselves, nature, those different then us, and our neighbors. It promises to be a broad, deep and hopefully life-impacting experience. And these young women and man have some incredible, profound things to say. As expected.

And it’s got me remembering how I’ve learned about God in my life. For example, like many, I think my first tutorials in “who God is” came from my parents. Because God is often (too often?) called Father, in both Scripture and church teaching, I learned a LOT about God’s character and love by watching my dad. He was a remarkable tutor in this subject. Pops was patient in loving me, always wanting what was best for me. He went out of his way, repeatedly, to show up for events I found important, simply showing me that he wanted to be involved in my life. I think that describes some important things about who God is.

And while we don’t often call God Mother (we could do that more- it’s in the Bible, after all), I learned LOTS about God from her too. Mom has this incredible ability to love people, all people, and I do mean all. When we hung out with millionaires, Mom loved earnestly. When people we knew were in trouble- kicked out of their home, dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, recovering from addiction- Mom opened our home to help them out. My mother was always my strongest defender, and challenged me constantly to be better than I thought I was, because she believed in me that much. I think that, too, describes some of who God is. Long story short, I have parents who exquisitely modeled God’s character to me. Thanks Mom and Pops!

But, of course, we can’t learn everything we might about God from just one or two sources. For instance, Mom and Dad weren’t always perfect, which they readily admit, and I learned from that too. Likewise, I had friends, mentors, pastors, and teachers who did things differently, but they were important things that reflected what the Bible’s best stories communicate about God’s character.

I remember a classmate in Middle School- Mike- who, for two years, was my enemy. Real jerk, so I thought. He thought the same of me. We’d go out of our way to insult one another, or just be pests to each other. Then, one summer, we attended the same summer camp. And while, at first, we continued our rivalry, after a few days of singing, playing, and learning about God, a thawing of tensions seemed possible.

He reached out first. I don’t recall the exact situation, but I remember walking with a group of guys, Mike included, when he reached his arm out, and put it around my shoulders. I took a double-take, but I saw in his eyes that he meant it. It wasn’t a fake gesture, meant to please the counselors. He was offering to be my friend. Suddenly, I realized that Mike thought I was a good guy, and it changed how I saw him too. I think God works that way for some people, and would love to do so for many, many more.

And that’s just a small sampling. I’ve learned about God in more ways that I could write. Probably more than I could ever know. And hopefully, after this week, I’ll have a few more stories to tell. But what about you? How have you learned about God?

Grace and Peace,


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