I had the opportunity to chat with two middle school students, Donovan and Justin, and a high school student, Marc about their week at Hume Lake. They shared with me how their lives were changed as the speakers helped them understand more about God and trusting His perfect plan.
Donovan’s journey to Hume began without much enthusiasm. As he got ready to visit Meadow Ranch for his last year in middle school, he wasn’t excited to go because he had been there before and felt like he had experienced all Hume had to offer.
Despite those feelings, he found himself at Hume this year. On the first night, he decided to embrace being there. Although he was unsure about how the week would turn out, he told God, “I don’t know that much about you, but I want to see you.” He didn’t expect much, but over the next few days, Donovan would come to know God like never before.
He said the most impactful part that changed his perception of God was listening to the message that Phil Payne presented. Donovan said, “I had heard these stories in Matthew a million times before, but Phil gave me this grand idea. He extended what I know about God.” Donovan explained that he now has a better idea of what it means for God to be all powerful. At the end of the week, when Justin Winford asked him what he had learned he said, “Because God is all powerful, I don’t have to doubt him. I’m no longer king of my life, God is.”
Donovan wanted to show this renewed commitment to God and got baptized. Before Tony Landini, our Middle School pastor, baptized him, he said, “You are proclaiming to the world your relationship.” I asked Donovan how he felt about this bold act and he said, “I want my friends and family to know about this.”
Donovan’s goal for right now is to listen to what God has to say even though he’s not at the lake. He shared, “God speaks so much at Hume. It’s easy because everyone is a Christian up there. I don’t want to care about what other people think and I want to actually listen to God down here as well.” Now, as he’s away from camp, he wants to show that God is truly King of his life. He wants to put his newfound trust in God to action and listen to whatever God is saying to him. Donovan’s experience shows his journey of reaffirming his trust in God has empowered him to live more courageously with people that aren’t Christians.
Justin Muller, a middle school student, shared his story as well. He also came to understand more about what it means to trust God while up at camp. He heard the story of Elijah and noticed that parts of it showed Elijah not trusting God. Elijah was more fearful of Jezebel and her false prophets than concerned with pleasing God. Even though Justin doesn’t have to flee from a tyrannical ruler, he shared that he struggles with trusting God in other areas of his life. He’s nervous about getting good grades and getting into the right high school. Those are both good concerns, but he said that he gets so nervous sometimes that it causes him to doubt God’s plan for his life. I asked him if there was anything that helps comfort him in these scary moments. He said that what helps draw him closer to God is knowing that, “my fears may be louder than God, but they’re not bigger.” Like Donovan, he also wants to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to him, and now he realizes that sometimes God may not be as loud as his worries, but He’s still present and available.
Justin’s aware that it may be harder to remember this now that he’s off the mountain and away from Hume. He’s still thinking about ways to keep reminding himself of God’s goodness and has been thinking about what Tony said to him at the end of camp. Tony challenged him and his small group by asking this question: “How can you help each other grow closer to God?” Justin said the question was difficult, but still good for him to think about. To stay close to God, he and his small group want to continue sharing how they’re doing and not leave that trust up at Hume. Even though he’s surrounded by people who love him in his small group, he voiced one of his concerns about being open with them. Justin said, “what if you don’t want people to know how you really are?”
Another student, Marc, had this same concern, but he told me that Hume helped show him how worthwhile it was to open up to people. Before Hume, he said, “Whenever there was something wrong, I would bottle it up and be tough about it. I wouldn’t express myself.” He shared that when he had conflict, he would never go to God for guidance about how to fix it. He felt trapped and explained how unsatisfying it was. “Sometimes the conflict would just end instead of being resolved.” This didn’t allow him to grow or process what he was feeling, he figured he would just have to wait out any sort of pain he experienced.
Because of this, the story of Elijah resonated with Marc. He told me, “we may have a plan, but God’s plan is much better. We can try to fix things, but it will never end the way we want it.”
He realized that he didn’t want to open up to people because he didn’t want others to judge him. He was closed off because of his guilt. “No one’s proud of their sin,” he said.
With this new perspective, he now understands the importance of being open with people. “Being a Christian means sharing your struggles. God gives us challenges to help us grow. If you don’t share your condition with people then they don’t know what’s happening and they can’t help you.”
Donovan, Justin, and Marc’s honesty reveal some struggles that many of us have. First, we need to learn how to trust God who has a perfect plan, even when He doesn’t share all of it with us. Then, not only can we trust a perfect God, we also need to trust imperfect people and share our spiritual condition. Their bravery and humility in being vulnerable with their small group and with God is vital to a growing faith. God designed us for community, for bearing each other’s burdens. It’s a gift to grow together.
Written by Robert Heckert