WITHIN, part 3

During the first months I spent at Camp, I was impressed by two things:  first, the relative ineffectiveness of the work at large, and, second, the critical opinions many staff members had for one another.  I am referring to permanent and administrative staff, not summer staff.

When I say relative ineffectiveness I am not saying there was never any fruit seen from the ministry.  I, personally, can testify that is not that case.  Rather I am saying that for the collective whole, there was far less bounty than one would expect.   I suddenly saw the potential versus the reality.  Let me explain it this way:  a good size orange grove in Florida may have 4,000 trees.  A properly fertilized and cared for tree can produce 1200 oranges per season.  But in some groves there are trees that only produce 600, and some that produce none at all.  The reason for that lack of yield might be disease, might be lack of proper nutrients in poor soil, might be even that the tree is too young to yet bear fruit.  But none the less, when the grower looks at the capability of the grove, seeing those 4000 trees and knowing that his yield isn't even 1/4 of what it could be, he recognizes a problem.    That is what I mean by relative ineffectiveness of the work at large.  This issue can be addressed and changed, which was my initial hope.

Running parallel to the lack of ineffectiveness observations, I realized that some of the staff members did not come to Camp with a heart to serve.  Years and years ago they came seeking refuge of one sort or another and found a place of employment there - not as ministry staff, but as practical help.  With that employment came staff housing, or a sense of comfort and convenience (albeit small) in a bank account.   For some, the paychecks and insurance came every two weeks, the housing has remained free for over 20, 30, 40+  years.   So today they continue, still without a true heart to serve.  Because the staff is so small, every member is felt.  The yield is lessened.

As far as the critical opinions many staff members had for one another, it seemed as if every conversation I had, especially in the first 5 months of being there, was marked with criticism of anothers  logic or approach.  This was a characteristic I had glimpses of as a consumer of Camp, but now the curtain was pulled back and I was seeing the full view.

Possibly it was my lack, but in seeking to answer to them from Scripture, as I have learned to do, I felt muffled and powerless to offer them anything penetrating.  It was as if each was disconnected from the others by camouflaged walls.  Together they had bible study weekly, sang and prayed; apart they disparaged and belittled one another.

Closely examining the three generations my family has spent there, I do not believe these are new issues.  I believe there is a spirit of complaint which has been tolerated and allowed to take deep root.   Looking at it now, I realize what I was experiencing as each member spoke sharply or critically of another was the absence of spiritual passion, in them and then in me, a fertilization neutralized by critical spirit.

In late May, Doug and I requested a meeting with the Director and his wife.  In that meeting we shared our concerns, observations, hopes - knowing ultimately that the answers given would determine whether we felt the yield would ever change, whether we would stay.  Would there be changes made to encourage growth?  Or would the needed pruning never take place because the cost was considered too high?

I search my heart in these days...following the shadows of my own critical spirit.  I wonder how ineffective I have become, how neutralized, why nothing is penetrating?  I ask myself the hard questions we asked the Director - what can I expect to see changed, if anything?  The length of the internal discussion tells of the depths of the decay.  I am realizing that the "cost" I have been lamenting of is not the cost of what it takes to follow my Lord, it is the cost of the pruning that must take place within me.  I think the cost is too high.  I too am making it work with what was freely given so long ago.  But without significant cuts I will remain at a place of relative ineffectiveness.  Not to say that there is never any fruit seen in my life, but for the collective whole, there is far less than one would expect.

Alas, the pruning is already in motion.  How do I grasp this resentfulness I feel toward Him and His ways in my life?  I know He only brings me Good!  How do I follow wholeheartedly once again?