It was Thursday evening. To be honest, I was just happy to be in the air-conditioned meeting room because let me tell you – this Youth Camp was a really hot and humid one! As worship began my thoughts ping-ponged between the responsibilities I left at home, the possibilities of what camp might be, and occasionally… the words to the songs. Then we started singing this chorus:
Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
It chases me down, fights til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine…
My heart warmed at the familiar feeling of being rescued from wandering. It was a small wandering - Just stray thoughts that wouldn’t settle on worshiping God. As I sang the words, I remembered so many other times when God rescued me whether it was from a meandering spiritual apathy, or a full out sprint of spiritual rebellion. I have felt chased by God, fought for by God, found like the one single sheep by God. I have experienced that overwhelming wave of God’s love for me through His relentless rescue of my wandering heart. I sang loudly with conviction.
As I sang I thought about the other parents in the room who were singing about the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God chasing them down, fighting til they were found, leaving the ninety-nine for them… The voices were passionate, the hands raised, the hearts sincere because how many times have we experienced this? Too many to remember, but enough to make us collectively rejoice in our amazing God who loves us this way. We all have so many stories because we all have lived for a while.
Then I looked ahead at the kids who were singing these words and it struck me that they are probably just starting to experience this. In fact, right here at Youth Camp one of these kids could be experiencing their very first, and ultimate rescue – from death to life. From child of wrath to child of God. Right here at Youth Camp one of these kids may experience the loving rescue from a path of worldliness, or rebellion to the path of grace and hope in the gospel. Maybe one of these kids has drifted into spiritual apathy and God is rescuing them through the teaching, the worship, the conversations with good friends.
It was a holy moment that Thursday night. One generation was singing to another, declaring God’s great works. It was one of my highlights for Youth Camp this year. I think part of why it is sticking with me as a mom is that I know about the 360 days between Youth Camps. There will be good ones, bad ones, hard ones, easy ones. I also know that my heart will wander, my kids’ hearts will wander as we live these in between days. I don’t put my hope in a big spiritual experience for each of us at Youth Camp. I love when that happens, but it isn’t where I put my hope. I put my hope – for my kids and for me – in the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God who will chase us down, fight til we’re found, leave the ninety-nine. God does this at Youth Camp, but He also does this on all of the ordinary days in between.