I love summer camp! I didn't get to go often as a kid, but in middle school and high school, it was the time of summer that I couldn't wait to experience! I attended a public high school, so my chances of hanging around other students who were as enthusiastic about the Bible as I was were pretty slim.
June/July would come around, and my duffel bag was packed.
My sleeping bag rolled.
My snacks were sugary.
I was ready.
I treated summer camp like a refueling station: I wouldn't necessarily stop often but only when I was running low on my spiritual "fuel." It's a pretty unhealthy approach.
I just returned home from helping lead an awesome Christian summer camp in Prescott, AZ, and boy, was it fantastic! It was a week of zip-lining, paintballing, discipling, and fueling up on the Spirit (just a fancy way of saying "getting pumped on Jesus").
It was awesome being with dozens of high school students who had a desire to grow closer to God. One thing I noticed, though, was also a desire to avoid the Jesus high.
What is the "Jesus high", you ask?
If you attended Christian summer camp at all during your childhood, chances are you know the feeling:
1. Your faith is struggling before you attend camp.
2. The speaker challenges his listeners on being "lukewarm" believers or just going through the motions.
3. You realize how badly you want to recommit your life to Christ.
4. You're ready to return home and take on the world for Jesus.
5. After a few weeks or months of being home, you find yourself back in the same scenario as before camp.
It's that fifth part that gets us: we return to the day-to-day norms that we followed before going to summer camp, and our hearts don't fill with excitement for Jesus like they did when we were surrounded by hundreds of other kids our age.
See, our walk with Jesus isn't meant for one week out of each summer. It isn't meant for Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights only.
Our walk with Jesus is meant to move forward daily.
When we treat Jesus as simply a "part" of our lives rather than our lives, we risk only inching forward or, worse, becoming stagnant when we are called to run.
In Hebrews 12:1-2, the author encourages his readers (the Hebrew people, but also us!) to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." This race is our Christian journey, our time here on Earth where we choose the Master we serve.
We are meant to run the race with endurance. It's not a sprint because we would tire quickly and burn out.
It's not a crawl because we should be putting in our best effort.
It's a perfect balance between constantly moving forward yet relying on God to fuel our energy even when we don't feel like moving.
Sometimes, we choose to serve God, but our schedule is a little out of whack. We don't devote more than one or two days to being in His Word and worshipping.
We read a couple of verses that make us feel good instead of hungrily diving into the Bible to learn more about who Jesus is.
We sing our worship songs at church, but the words we sing don't reflect how we live our lives during the rest of the week.
I think this is why the "Jesus high" of summer camp is so appealing. We love how "on fire" we are for Christ in the days following camp; it's because we spent the past week praising Jesus every day!
How do we bring the "Jesus high" home to joyfully infect us in how we live?
One key part is something we find at camp: the people.
Surround yourselves with other people who desire to worship God and who will help hold you accountable in your walk with God.
Maybe it means nightly worship sessions with a hundred other students, or maybe it means studying God's Word with another friend at a coffee shop.
If you're headed to summer camp this summer, don't feel guilty about that awesome feeling you get when you return home! Allow it to change how you live for the rest of the year.
Change your dependency on a week-long experience in the summer into a dependency on God's grace and truth yearlong.