June 19th, the beginning of camp, I was praying for God to cleanse my eyes, mind, and soul of my negativity and judgment; I wanted so desperately to see the world the way God does. And I wasn't really feeling different over the next two days. I felt closer to God, but I knew there was something greater to come.
Then the day came, June 21st of 2017. I was slowly beginning to trust God over the years of recovery, but it wasn't full throttle until this day. I was at Bigstuf Camps, a youth group camp in Panama City Beach, Florida, and the theme for camp was "Filters," which basically talked about our good and bad outlooks on all aspects of life. We had a sermon addressing our "Father Filter" on this seemingly ordinary day of June.
Stuart Hall, the speaker, began by addressing our different ways of viewing God; From on-demand God, who is only there when you ask for something, to an Almighty Zeus like God, who is only there for you when you're sinless and leaves you during hardships until you redeem yourself.
This was clearly my view of God, so I started zoning into Stuart much more. He then asked us to picture our dads, no matter if we are extremely close or distant with them, storming into the convention hall, making a big scene to find us, and then when he does, he tells us how much he loves us and is proud of us. Of course, everyone loved the idea. Stuart then pointed out that this is what God is. A perfected version of our earthly fathers.
At this point, I started sobbing. Yes, God is almighty, but he's so much more than that. He is my Dad in Heaven, and he can understand what I'm feeling because of Jesus. He feels all my pain WITH me; he isn't simply watching from above. As this realization was hitting me, I could feel Jesus by my side. Literally feel him. I could feel his hand on my back, and I had seemingly endless chills surging through me. When I felt Jesus telling me to look up, I did.
And my life was changed forever.