It is Monday. The bags are unloaded and the vehicles have been vacuumed. Camp is over.
What do you do when you have had an amazing experience with God, but then come back to the regular routine? Can the passion be kept or will our commitments fizzle out in a few weeks?
Here are my thoughts on holding on to what is important.
- When you take something out, fill the hole. – During camp or other church events we can make commitments to cut out unhealthy behaviors or habit. This is good! Romans 6 asks if we can keep on willfully sinning as believers. When we intentionally remove certain things from our life we should also intentionally fill the newly vacated time with Godly behavior. The more we can remove the unholy things/attitudes/behaviors in our life and replace them with holy things/attitudes/behaviors the better off we will be. When we make the commitments but do not make a replacement, the probability is that we will fall back into our old patterns.
- Emotions are not rock solid identifiers of God’s will. – Emotions are good. God created us to feel deeply. When we encounter God we are deeply effected. Think of Isaiah in chapter 6 of his book. He said he was “undone”. I gotta believe that is on some level an emotional reaction as well as a spiritual reaction. Even though we need to allow ourselves to feel the move of God, we cannot trust emotions as a solid understanding of God’s will. At a camp or other situations where the music and lights are right and you are just a little sleep deprived, the tendency is toward an emotional response. When the music fades and the lights and smoke are off, what is God still saying? God will confirm His movement. Do you see consistency between what you have heard and what He has already said in His Word? Will older, wiser believers affirm what what they see God doing in your life? Do not trust your emotions, but trust the Bible. God has spoken and will continue to speak through it to you!
- Accountably is the key to retention. – When we really want to make a life change, you have to tell someone what has happened. I know, it sounds simple, but many decisions and commitments are made that are never shared! If you really want to see genuine life change, take the first step by telling others what God is doing in your life. Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable to your commitments. We were not created to live life alone. God made Adam, and before sin ever entered the world, He said it was not good for him to be alone. God created the Church and told us in Hebrews not to forsake meeting together. We need relationships to live the life God intended us to live. Allow others to really know you and speak truth into your life.
- How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time. – Many times when we experience God in a deep and personal way we (unwittingly) think we cannot have this in “real” life. It can only happen at camps or retreats, but it is not practical for everyday. To live life in the presence of God is a tall order. This style of living is not one you can turn on and off like a light switch. Jesus disciples asked him how to pray. We have to learn how to read the bible. In our spiritual life we draw close to Him through a lifelong process called sanctification. It is a big task, like eating an elephant, but it is worth doing. We start one bite at a time. Set aside time to read your bible and pray. Commit to a local church. Slowly when we persistently practice the things of God we get close to Him. God wants that real close relationship with us everyday! Even without the hype of camp we can live in the presence of God in real life.
- Eliminate Distractions – When we leave our normal routine and get focused on God, what do you know, He shows up. What is the difference between that location 8+ hours away and our own hometown? It is NOT that God only chooses to work there. God is the same in both places. The difference is in us, not with God. When we focus on Him and eliminate the distractions we hear His voice more clearly. If you want to continually hear from God, LISTEN! Make intentional time to worship Him each day. Make intentional time to dive into His word and pray. These are the things we do at camp, why can’t we do them at home too!?!
Your fellow worker in the field, Adam