Past the heart of summer and onto the August calendar flip, time pushes on with a rush, rush, rush. I am so happy we take time to pause as a faith community and head to Barton Park, to camp. There’s a pause and time to gather together. The pace slows down and easy conversations flow as carefree as the Clackamas River. Whether first-time campers or decades-experienced church campout specialists, there’s a sense of togetherness, a living expression of God’s adopted family together.
The pause is important! We rush into each week and take on all the challenges before us. We need to build in those stops. The campout crowd worshiped and shared a Saturday night expression of their love for Jesus and need for time with one another. They stopped and refreshed in Jesus. The Sunday service crowd met to worship and hear the Word. Stopping to be shaped by remembering Jesus offers an immortal power and purpose to all our lives. There, too, new believers and seasoned Jesus followers paused to consider the wonderful gifts and amazing life we have been invited to live in Him.
I love the handing off of the experiences and the faith-filled life that occurs in all these settings. There’s a generational impact whether we’re sitting around picnic tables laden with dessert or chatting over cushy chairs in our auditorium planning where to share lunch. That pause in community critically provides time and space to learn from one another, to not only hear but to see our Jesus-centered lives.
Just this last Wednesday, Susan and I unzipped our tent, loaded up our daypacks and headed out for Comet Falls in the Mt. Rainer National forest. This time to pause together out of the weekly routines provided time to connect together and with God. We marveled at the fresh water beauty of the creek side trail leading to the 380 foot Comet Falls. Every bend on the trail brought new views of mountain meadow flowers and the majestic peak of Rainer. While hiking back to the trailhead, thoughts of food and a campfire flavoring our conversation, a hiker came up behind us, music quietly playing on his phone. The melody of the song whispered, “Worship the Glory of our King”.
As I heard, I shared in passing, “Jesus is worthy of our Praise!”
The gentleman stopped and spoke, “How can people not believe? How can they not see Jesus?” We affirmed our faith together in that moment.
Later in the parking area of the trailhead, I thanked the hiker for his public display of faith and asked his name. “Jeff,” he answered. He identified himself as new to the faith and followed up with, “Did you know that Jesus fulfilled countless prophecies, a mathematical impossibility that only God could do?” He told the story of stepping into the office of the navy base doctor and hearing “That Christian music.”
The base doctor asked him about his health, his social life, going to church and reading the bible. All things Jeff answered as “No.” Then the doctor asked, “What if your dearest love, the person who knows you better than anyone ever knew you wrote you a letter of love and you never read it? And what if this person wrote 66 love letters, all unread?” Jeff went on to say he’s now an avid reader of those love letters and a follower of the one who wrote them.
We both paused in thoughtful praise for salvation. We both stopped to name His name and thank Him for the adoption and new life. Words of encouragement were shared and the absolute confidence we have in telling anyone the message Jesus gives to each of us to speak. Jeff and I acknowledged the power and the calling is God’s to express through us. He desires to draw the world to Himself. Whether sitting at a campsite, standing in a church hall or pausing in some gravel parking lot, His story is being repeatedly told.
The summer campout weekend pause is done. Cars are packed. Families and the faithful are now moving through our week’s routines. The worship guitars are still. But the need to stop again, soon, remains in front of us all. I can’t wait to gather together knowing He’s doing a work, a perfecting in us, while drawing generations to Himself. I am reminded that even in the daily course through life there will be “trail-side” moments to stop and tell His story for all of us.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us." 2 Cor. 5:17+