I spent last night on a hilltop overlooking a densely treed valley at Camp. I chose that spot, at the corner of the enormous tin-topped porch, for the cross-winds, the sights and the sounds. Adirondack chairs are scattered around the square perimeter of the building's porch, their background the giant, sliding barn-type doors which open the entire space on every side revealing the gym within. There, volleyball games, basketball tournaments, meetings and aggressive indoor rock climbing take place. But not at night. At night it is silent up there, except for the sounds of nature...and of the singing below.
Each night, after the activities of the day are completed, all bedtime snacks have been had and the weight of the days thoughts and physicalities are beginning to settle in, there is a one last gathering of Praise. It is my favorite time of the day at Camp.
I had planned to write up there last night before they gathered. But writing is not coming so easily this week. My ideas seem fleeting, blurry, impotent. I thought this would be a time of lucidity in writing, this time alone, but rather it has been opaque in that regard. What has become crystal clear though are some areas of self deception moving like shadows in my life. Mercy.
Suddenly the Boys Director at Camp was playing his guitar. The boys from cabins 9-12 were there as well. As he warmed up his fingers on the strings and the boys and their counselors all begin to take root on the benches, ending the towel popping and roughhousing, I too put my weapons down.
Without greeting, explanation, teaching of words or even a strum through the chorus, he began You Are My All In All. My eyes closed to the stars I had been watching, their iridescence still glowing even with closed lids. At first it was only his voice, and then, the boys joined in. "Taking my sin, my cross, my shame," met me where I was. I stood, not even recognizing my motion. Tears from my eyes as I stood with nature singing along. I was hidden by the darkness, but pierced by the Light of the moment. The voices of young men, singing of Worthiness filled miles and miles of land. The Common Poorwill chimed in, as did the tree frogs. A symphony. My heart on fire within me.
As he moved from one song to the next with the boys, I saw others below. Also hidden by darkness, just steps outside of the ring of campfire light, they took seats on bare ground, or stood with hands upraised. I am not the only one who loves this time. Work crew girls coming from the showers and headed to their cabins for the night, removed towels from their wet heads and instead used them for seating upon the dirt. They sat, heads bowed and begin to sing as well. A volunteer who had been making a phone call in the field adjacent to the gathering hung up and watched, leaning against a tree. A staff member stopped the four wheeler he was driving, parked, and got out to join his heart from the road.
Why do we all respond like this? Majesty. There is no show here, there is only Praise. And with nature joining us, there is something more than what we experience in our day to day lives. There was a moment of perfumed Majesty where we all bowed in heart and spirit to this Name above all Names.
"Worship is not just words in a song. It is not how well you know a song or how well you sing. Worship is saying that God is bigger than you, worthier than you, and that you bow before Him," the Director explained to the boys. And then he went on as he strummed notes to the next song, "Worship is everything you do, not just singing. It is in your art, how you draw or paint, how you express yourself, how you have relationships with people around you. Your life is your worship." And he quietly converged into another song. I stared at the stars again and thought of the simplicity and plunging depth of that Truth.
Our life is our worship. Everything we do can be an acting out of what we Believe. And perhaps it is even when we are not being intentional about it. Living in anxiety shows our unbelief, even if we are not trying to show that. Being unreasonable or simply haughty, as I am so much of the time, is also acting out what we believe: our way is best.
It is very easy for me to make excuses about why I dont do this or that. Not settled enough, not time enough, not surrounded by others who want what I want out of life enough. But reality is that Jesus moved amongst the masses. Not settled, not much time here, not surrounded by any who wanted the same things He did, at least to the same degree. But He knew where He was headed and everyday of His life here was a step toward where He was going. He had an agenda and that agenda determined what was priority in His days.
People were priority.
His worship was what He did in relationships here.
And He says, Follow Me.
I went to sleep my mind full of the wonder, and conviction, of that.