(A testimony from youth camp)
I am thankful that we were able to attend youth camp this year, and we did so with our two oldest grandchildren, Kaleb and Carli. Having the children at camp reminded me of when we used to take our own children to camp and witness them learning more about Jesus with others their age. And it also helped me to experience camp in my role as a grandfather, watching out for their wellbeing both physically and spiritually.
In almost every message or lesson that was given during the week, we were reminded to learn more about our life and calling in Christ, and the importance of knowing that we must make good use of the time we have here on earth. As the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:16-17, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” This is a lesson we should never stop learning, no matter how long we have known Christ as our Savior.
Like most pastors, I am involved with people of every age group and am present for some of the most important milestones of their lives. Babies are dedicated, graduations are celebrated, marriage ceremonies are performed, homes are dedicated, marital problems are counseled, illnesses are prayed for, serious medical problems are ministered to, and funerals are performed. Most every pastor has been asked to take part in these events and we do so because we care about God’s people. And in each of these events, our involvement is sought out because people want the Lord to bless them and the life that they are living.
At the close of camp, a sobering memory came to my mind. So much was spoken about the importance of nurturing our spiritual lives and dedicating ourselves to the will of God, yet deep down in my pastor’s heart, drawing from my personal experience, I know that many will invest their lives in things that will fall far short of their spiritual potential. As in the message that I gave at camp comparing mathematics to spiritual issues and drawing from the testimony of the scriptures, some children of God will never venture much beyond 1 + 1 = 2.
I have performed many funeral services for people I either didn’t know when they were alive in the flesh, or knew very little about. I am called to meet with the family of the deceased to piece together as much information about their lives as I can in a very short amount of time. What I end up hearing is their testimony as remembered by those closest to them while they lived. I always inquire about their spiritual background so I can hopefully discern their relationship with God. But in so many instances, the spiritual aspects of their lives are quickly abandoned and each family member begins to talk about the things that they remember the most about their loved ones life. It is here that my heart often grows sad.
All of the stories about how they loved a certain sport, or how dedicated they were to their job, or how they loved to entertain themselves with travel, dancing, gardening, or raising their children come gushing out of the mouths of their spouses, children, and grandchildren. Amazingly, one of the most common “testimonies” regarding a deceased woman’s life is how she was famous for her potato salad. At first this may seem funny, but when person after person and family after family repeatedly relate the same story of how “no one could make potato salad like her”, the humor quickly fades.
When I looked out over the gathering of the dear children of God that attended camp this year, and thought about the many priceless messages that we had opportunity to hear, I was burdened to pray that each of us would make great room in our hearts for the rich word of God. What an unspeakable, glorious opportunity is set before each of us! The calling, the hope, the bold assurance of walking arm in arm with the Creator and Savior of all through each and every day of our lives on earth experiencing the wonder of His love!
With these great blessings gifted to us in Christ Jesus, God forbid that one of the most remembered things about our lives in this world would be our potato salad. Not that there is anything wrong with potato salad, but do we really want it to become our crowning glory? Is this the testimony that we want to be spoken of as those that we have loved and known the best during our earthly life gather together to attend our funeral?
I pray that the messages at camp provide a lasting encouragement for us to yield our lives to the Lord Jesus. I pray that, if the Lord tarries, that our funeral services are conducted by a pastor who can comfortably speak at length of our labor of love in the Lord and never have to mention our potato salad.