here at camp, we’re all about the kids. we love what we do and we want to make sure that each camper feels safe, loved, happy, and valuable here at camp. and the fact is, while there are a million fun things you can do at camp (and a million more we just haven’t invented… yet), the main reason kids keep coming back isn’t the mud hikes or the rock wall or the food (delicious as it may be) or the pool and lake. they come back because camp is a place where they feel like they mean something to someone. they feel known.
i was writing parent letters tonight, thinking back on my week and all the awesome ways that God provided for me to get to know my campers. parent letters are always a great way to look back on the week. they remind me of all the fun i’ve had with these guys and all the reasons their parents love them and all the reasons God is passionately pursuing each one of them, the same way He pursues you and me.
as i was writing, i recalled a phrase from training, one that eric used to explain why we should take parent letters seriously. he told us that parents want to know that someone else knows their child. and knows not just their name and what clinics they took and whether or not they get homesick. parents want to know that other people can pick up on the little things, the unique personalities and funny quirks that make that kid their child. it is important to them that someone else see their son or daughter as an individual, as opposed to just one of the couple hundred campers we get every week.
and even if they don’t realize it, the campers themselves yearn for this too.
this week some of my favorite campers from last summer were here. one is staying for this week as well, and i got to hang out with him a little bit. as with my other campers from last summer that i’ve seen in the past few weeks, i always wonder if they’re going to remember me. it’s such an awesome feeling when they see you, their eyes light up a little bit, and they yell your name. as i was catching up with the guy, i realized that even though i’m not a camper, and i have a healthy level of self-esteem, i desperately want to be known as well. i want people to remember me, to recognize me even after years of separation. i want to mean something to someone, to be considered valuable in someone’s eyes.
even if we don’t realize it, we all yearn for this kind of knowing.
it makes a lot of sense too, because God designed us to be like this. He designed us to be geared for relationships and friendships and fellowship. and while He blesses us with friends and family and favorite campers to remind us that we are known, that we are valuable to someone, He is still the only One who can truly know us.
He knows everything about us, too. all the good and all the bad. we may want to be known, but a knee-jerk reflex pulls us back and says “well, not completely known.” because there’s stuff that you don’t want other people to know about. because if they did, they might just turn away. they might not want to talk to you again. if other people knew every single thing about you… what kinds of things would they know? the stuff that you’re really ashamed of, the stuff that you can barely admit to yourself, much less other people… and God knows all of it.
but instead of being repulsed and turning away, He opens His arms and welcomes us back into fellowship with Him, even after the coming back to Him for the millionth time with the same old disgusting sins. and this can happen not because our sins vanished into thin air, but because they were paid for by Jesus as He died on the cross.
how crazy it is that the Creator of the entire universe would know every single thing about me, a twenty-year-old college student living in indiana on the planet earth located in the milky way galaxy? there’s absolutely no reason that i should be known by that kind of Power. but i am. and we all are. our God is a loving, personal God, which means that when psalm 139 tells us that God “created my inmost being” and “knit me together in my mother’s womb”, it’s not just a cute way of thinking about it. God was–and is–that involved. He knows each of us that much.
what incredible evidence of such incredible love.
and the coolest part is that now i get to reflect that kind of love to my campers and friends here at tecumseh. part of loving those kids involves getting to know them, to really know them, because when they understand that, when they get that, they’re seeing a small (sinful and imperfect) sliver of the love Jesus has for them.
stuff like this makes the tough weeks much more awesome.