I recently took a group of students to summer camp. It was an incredible week as they were all engaged completely from night one. Each student had God do a work in their life. Even for myself, it was a powerful week. Now that it’s behind me I can’t help but reflect on something so many of us have encountered and witnessed many times.
We go to a camp, conference or some kind of powerful service. We feel as though our lives have been transformed and we leave determined to live out a new life filled with supernatural power. Fast forward a few weeks and nothing in our life has really changed. Sometimes we fall back into old sin habits. Other times we are just discouraged because we don’t feel His presence like we did at camp. What went wrong?
I’ve pondered that a lot this week and this is where I’ve landed. What if nothing went wrong? I’m not saying it’s ok to fall back into old habits, but we do sometimes have the wrong expectation that every day for the rest of our life will be exactly like that camp experience. That’s not real life. Do we sometimes have unexpected powerful encounters with God in our daily devotional life? Absolutely, yes! However, that doesn’t mean there are not seasons that feel so completely dry you wonder if God has forgotten you.
What do we do? How do we sustain the life transformation we felt at our “camp experience” and maintain a passionate relationship with God? The first thing I would recommend is to evaluate if what you experienced was God’s transforming power or His revelation. There are moments when He absolutely heals hurts, brings freedom from addictions and does a true transforming work in our lives. However, there are many other times where we have a powerful encounter with His presence and what He did was reveal areas in our lives we need to surrender and live out the change.
The responsibility many times relies on us to recognize what the Lord spoke to us and dedicate our lives to living out the truth of His word. The camp experience is fast, filled with emotional charge and clarity of God’s voice. Real life often moves much slower, doesn’t see instant results and often depends upon self-discipline rather than a driving emotional force.
Another thing that makes real life more challenging to live our than our camp experience is that many times we come home from camp to find even though we felt change wihin us, our home life and our life circumstances have not changed. At camp we are taken out of our usual routine, associations and assignements. We are completely set apart to pursue God. When we go home all of that is still there. Our families are still a mess. Our financial situation hasn’t changed. Our social status isn’t suddenly elavated. The same temptations we faced before are still there.
It’s easy to pursue God whole heartedly when we remove all distractions, but once we are back in our routines it’s all to easy to fall into the same old lifestyle we lived before. We have to intentionally purpose in our hearts to make actual changes to help us keep a godly mindset. We may have to change how we spend our time. We must make time to spend with Jesus and maybe decrease our video game, tv, entertainment time. We may need to distance ourselves from friends who influence us to do wrong. We may need to work harder to live in peace with our parents. We may need to work to change our negative attitudes into positive attitudes.
1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT) But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
When we come to know Jesus the Bible says we are set apart as holy. That doesn’t just mean we sepearate ourselves from the world. Anyone can do that. I could could go find a cave to live in, cut off all tv and interenet and avoid everyone. You wouldn’t call that holy, you’d call that crazy. To be holy is to seperate yourselves unto the Lord for His purposes.
We need the camp experience. We need seasons where we get away and just chase the Lord free of distraction. We also need to learn what it means to truly pursue the Lord within the context of our daily routines. True life change doesn’t happen in one glorious moment. It is a daily decision to continue living out the change we experienced. Too often our eyes are opened and after a few weeks we close them again. It’s easier to ignore our shortcomings than to try and change them.
My prayer for you today is that you would honestly evaluate times in your life where you had a camp experience and it didn’t last. What do you think went wrong? Let’s purpose in our hearts to seek the Lord wholeheartedly!