Christian conferences/camps/events are pretty weird things. Over the years I’ve attended too many than I care to admit, and I’ve noticed some progression in the way they pan out in life. I think they started out as booster weeks, weeks to go and get a ‘high’ from, weeks where you’d hang out with people who believed the same stuff as you, enjoy the buzz and expect some deep encounters with the Maker of the World. I’d then come crashing back to reality and have a few weeks of feeling sad and disappointed that the ordinary Christian life just wasn’t as shiny and easy as it was on those weekend aways.
Things have changed. I remember the first conference I went on where I didn’t get the high, it just wasn’t the same buzz, maybe my faith was weaker? Maybe God wasn’t showing up as much? I chatted this over with my brother who wisely observed that maybe maturity was taking place and there was more sense of a reality of God in the everyday rather than needing a special weekend away to connect with God.
As time has gone on, I think he’s right. I still love the weekend aways, the times to hang out with other Christians from all over the place, but the highs aren’t the same, which means the low’s aren’t the same either. Coming home there is more sense of relief than disappointment. We’re not all aiming for the intensity (or weird subcultureness) of a Christian event in our lives (thank the Lord, no really, thank him – imagine if we were), the best place to walk with God is in the everyday world we inhabit, we don’t have to head away for deep ‘spiritual’ encounters. God is here, today, right now.
I love the retreat times, the times to go and talk to God for a day or a week, but I think these are fuel for the everyday. The everyday life we live can be enhanced by these times away and they can be times to reflect on how we walk through this life, they can encourage us to learn the daily art of remembering what reality is all about.
I’ve just come back from helping out at a kids camp. It was a great week of swimming around in Ephesians with 3 lovely assistant leaders, it was much fun to wash dishes everyday and it was a treat to hang out with other Christians, from different areas and all be focused on the same thing. I’m glad to be back. I’ve been reminded of my Maker and that makes it easier to come back to Brighton, our home. Here is where we live out the reality that we belong to him, here there is no post camp crash because God is right in the midst of our life in this spot. Here is our life of love we are called to live in. The God who watches over our lives, the Maker of Heaven and Earth is active in our lives today, not just on camp, not just on a summer team, not just in the retreat, He is here in the washing up, the going to work, the getting up, the loving of friends and family and in the broken clay pot like church we are part of. That’s a reason that keeps the blues away.