Camp was my own Damascus Road

When Raymond Pert gave the next sibling assignment to write about summer camp, two experiences came to mind.

The first one I thought of, I rejected, because it was too sad and depressing. It would be like reading the script to “Mean Girls II”. That was my one and only experience attending Camp Neewahlu, a Camp Fire Girls camp on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

So, I decided to go with the second story. Because this week of camp was a turning point in my life…in fact it changed my life forever.

It was the first time I attended Pine Acres Camp, a church camp sponsored by Meridian Gospel Tabernacle, a church in Meridian, Idaho. I was 18 at the time. The camp was located outside of Donnelly, Idaho at a 4-H camp along the shore of Cascade Lake.

I had always gone to church growing up, and was involved in youth group, and church choir, and I prayed and read the Bible. But it was pretty much on my terms, and I just went to church to see what I could get out of it for me.

The first time I attended church camp, it was similar to Saul who was struck down by God’s Holy Spirit on the road to Damascus. His whole life changed, and he became Paul and he was blinded for a few days until God removed the "scales" from his eyes.

For me, my sign was how I spoke. Overall, I was a pretty good kid in high school. I didn’t party, I was home on time, and I got pretty good grades. But I did swear more than I thought I should have, and I could tell pretty good dirty jokes. But the swearing started bothering me, and I felt like I shouldn’t talk that way anymore. I tried to stop, but it was such a bad habit that I couldn’t quit myself.

One day at church camp, one of the speakers spoke about how we were like a house, and Jesus could come in and clean out the different “rooms” in our house…or something like that. Whatever was said really spoke to me, and I was overcome with tears toward the end of the service, and really felt like there was a lot of repentance that day, as well as grace, mercy and forgiveness shown me by the Lord.

I’m not sure when I realized it, but one big change for me from that moment on was I didn’t swear anymore. I didn’t have to work at it, it just happened. Before, even saying “god” as a slang word bothered me, but I didn’t even do that any more. It was completely gone. My mind didn’t even think that way anymore.

For me, it is a reminder that God is real, and cares about even small things in our lives, and that he will take them away in the blink of an eye.

PKR and I were walking the dogs tonight and praying about many things, and one thing he prayed about was for God to intrude on our lives, like He did with Mary, the mother of Jesus, or like with Saul, who then became Paul.
God intruded upon my thinking patterns that week at camp, and completely changed the way I looked at life.

Growing up, when I went to church, I would go for what I could get out of it.

After church camp, I wanted to know what I could do for God.

People in our church call this experience I had the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

For me it isn’t a weird or freaky thing…it was and continues to be a way God moves on my life to give me power to live my life according to His plan, not my own.

And, it works for me. I find it a privilege to be able to talk with and have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

It isn’t that I’m special…..He wants to talk to us all…if we’ll just be open.

I love this picture, because it reminds me of what happened to me at camp.

Jesus knocked on the door to my heart, and I let him in, and, since I opened that door, nothing was ever the same again.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8


Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Great story. I love church camp, and especially teen camp. I have seen God do some amazing things in people's lives at camp.

raymond pert said...

I wondered when you stopped cussing. I'm not sure it was the Holy Spirit, though. I think you were losing too much money to the Cuss Box and got tired of us calling you "Little Donnie"!

InlandEmpireGirl said...

I don't even remember you ever cussing. I knew this story of church camp, but it was wonderful to read it again. I loved the pictures. Did you cuss at my wedding reception? I think that was before you went to camp!