This year’s middle school and high school camps were incredible! I had the privilege to attend both camps this year, first as a counselor and then a camper.
Naturally, we faced both pleasant and ill weather. Sports tournament victories, catchy tribe chants and s’mores offset the frequent sunburns, mosquitos and unquenchable heat. We all came in with different expectations, different levels of motivation to know God and different ranges of experience in real conversations.
But I believe camp changed us all in some way, for the better. Here are 4 lessons I learned at Y-Camp, along with 4 practicals you can use in your life to get “untangled”:
1) Knowing my identity (who or what defines me) makes me confident
13 You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother’s body. 14 How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NIRV)
13 Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to such and such a town, stay there a year, and open up a profitable business.” 14 How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you will be bragging about your own plans, and such self-confidence never pleases God. 17 Remember, too, that knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin.
James 4:13-17 (TLB)
Understanding the kind of person God has created me to be makes me more secure and less swayed by the desire to please people. When I’m always trying to win the approval of people, I’m constantly changing my outward appearance to mask the inside and fit in.
The second Scripture says that life fades as quickly as the morning mist. Anything can happen, and tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. When analyzing your identity, it’s important to look at the parts of you that are permanent.
Practical: Study out your identity. Include talents, strengths/weaknesses, interests, likes/dislikes. Which of these qualities would last through any accident or circumstance that permanently alters your life? Example: If you consider football part of your identity, imagine injuring your back. You wouldn’t be able to play anymore. A talent like empathy, on the other hand, could potentially stick with you no matter what circumstance hits you.
2) Everything I’ve been through (and my insecurity) is meant to point me to God
10 So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak[in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].
2 Corinthians 12:10 (AMP)
8 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the trouble we suffered in Asia. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength. We even gave up hope of living. 9 Truly, in our own hearts we believed we would die. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God, who raises people from the dead. 10 God saved us from these great dangers of death, and he will continue to save us. We have put our hope in him, and he will save us again.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NCV)
We’ve all undergone difficulty in our lives. Some of us have had to deal with loss, debilitating health challenges, conflicts in relationships and more. Some of us are going through theses things right now.
We also all have some form of insecurity. It can be related to our appearance, our intelligence, whether or not people like us, our family wants us, or God exists and cares about us. Insecurity makes me feel really, really bad about myself.
Life’s troubles and insecurities get us down, but they’re not just there to overwhelm us with immense discouragement and insurmountable doubt. Life tests us so that we turn to God and realize that no one but him can help/comfort/strengthen/change us.
Practical: Why do you need God? Make a list of all the challenges and limitations you face in your life that remind you that you need God. How does he rescue you?
3) Untangling is about dealing with the obstacles (sins/emotions/fears) that prevent me from seeing God and being happy
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
7 We should live in the light, where God is. If we live in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, washes away every sin and makes us clean.
1 John 1:7 (ERV)
It seems like sin is always there to trip me up. It’s unavoidable. We’re all human; we all mess up. However, the first Scripture instructs that when we do get entangled, we fix our eyes on Jesus. If you get into sin and immediately feel afraid of people finding out, you need to shift your focus onto God.
God’s ability to move in your life is hindered when you get tangled up by sin and the other things you don’t talk about. You get even more entangled when you look to people instead of God. The second Scripture offers a simple solution: live in the light.
Practical: It starts with honesty with God. Open up about the things you’ve never told anyone. It’s scary when you do it the first time, but pray and then find a close friend you can trust; it’s relieving beyond compare to get everything off your chest.
4) God wants to use me to change lives
3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. 6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (MSG)
My favorite part of camp was the sharing. Everyone was tremendously vulnerable, and their stories will stick with me for the rest of my life. I couldn’t even imagine going through some of the experiences people shared about. And yet these guys were standing up in front of people, talking about the hardest thing in the world for them to talk about, explaining that now they can help people who’ve gone through the same thing. I want to find that group of people for myself. Who can only I reach because of who I am and what I’ve gone through?
Practical: Who’s someone God has put in your life for you to impact? How can you use the challenges in your life to comfort those who are going through a similar thing you’ve been through? Identify the needs you had when you faced that difficulty. What would have helped you? Be what you needed for another person.