You never know what God is going to do next. For example, when we hosted a church youth retreat last month, I expected to use our new Upward Tower to teach these teens how a relationship with God is an adventure that continually calls us upward into a closer relationship with Him. And that’s just what we did. They spent hours climbing, pulling, and scrambling their way up to the top of the 50-foot tower and zip-lining to the ground, cementing the lesson in their minds through an unforgettable experience. But I never expected what happened next.
As the exhausted group shuffled off to get cleaned up for supper, one of the students named Sherri approached my wife and me to ask if she could have a moment of our time. We soon found that she was about the same age as our son, planning to finish high school in May, and trying to prepare for an unknown future. Sherri was interested in pursuing outdoor leadership-based ministry, but was feeling unsure and desperately desired direction from the Lord.
What I shared with her over the next 20 minutes was nothing heroic, prophetic, or particularly insightful. I just shared our story. I told her how God had dramatically interrupted my prayers one night, directing me to a camp where I ended up falling in love with my future wife and with camp ministry. I shared how I’d gone to a college that I couldn’t afford, but God had miraculously provided the needed funds. I told her how Jen and I got married when it didn’t make any sense, and God had blessed us with a beautiful family. And I told her that where I am now is nothing close to what I envisioned for my life when I was her age, but that I wouldn’t trade it for anything because God’s plans are always better than our own.
As I packed away the last few pieces of climbing gear, I looked at her and saw tears brimming in her eyes. “I can’t tell you how much this conversation has meant to me,” she said. “This was exactly what I needed to hear. You just confirmed everything I know God has been trying to say to me. Thank you.” She then headed off to join her group with a peace in her heart and a quiet determination in her soul.
I never know when teachable moments are going to arise, but I do know this: we find a lot of them at camp. Whether they are planned events like the Upward Tower, or unexpected conversations with young people like Sherri, these experiences can change and shape lives for the sake of God's Kingdom. I can't wait to see what He does next.