I spent all of last week in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks helping out with a church camp. This camp has a special place in my heart. It’s a beautiful place tucked in the hills that overlooks grazing cattle and the Niangua River.
It was where I went during a time when I was figuring out who I was, whom Christ is, and understanding our relationship.
It’s a place that lacks television, and radio, and wi-fi, and pizza delivery, and has sketchy cell phone service. It’s been a place where I could literally disconnect from the rest of the world—minus a few times when we’ve needed to turn on the weather radio because of storms. It’s been a place where I can go to and get refocused and remember that God is all powerful and in control of my life.
So when I was asked to come out and help again–specifically teaching lessons out of Isaiah this year– I had to say yes.
Dozens of teens from around Missouri traveled to the camp this year to visit with friends they rarely get to see, take cold showers, wake up early, stay up late, be a little ornery, cheer camp cheers, and hopefully learn more about Jesus.
The week was hot. No wait, HOT!! (there aren’t enough explanation points to emphasize it)!!! In fact, we were under an excessive heat warning for a portion of the week. Combine hot temperatures, high humidity, and a camp that has no air conditioning–anywhere– and you get a very sweaty, makeup melting situation and multiple showers daily.
The daily trips to the swimming pool, the cold showers, laying motionless on bunks with fans blowing, and “accidentally” falling out of rafts while floating down the Niangua River provided temporary relief, but it just didn’t cut it when it came to cooling down completely.
As adults we stressed to the kids daily to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and somewhat cool.
Little did I know that my week spent at church camp was preparing me for what I came home to—an excessive heat warning for a full week. According to the National Weather Service, we will be experiencing “Oppressive heat and humidity through at least Saturday.” At least?!?!
So I’ll keep drinking my jugs of water to stay hydrated, and of course I can now find comfort in the air conditioning.
I went out with Adam and his dad soon after I got back from camp to help with some of their irrigation, and after walking through a corn field opening and closing irrigation gates and then checking a pivot, it became apparent to me that I will never take air conditioning for granted again. Ever.
It has also become obviously evident to me how important water truly is. Although it was refreshing to stand in the path of a pivot sprinkler–I think the cold showers at church camp prepared me for this cold water–that’s not its true purpose.
The water that is used to irrigate the fields this summer is the lifeblood for the crops. It provides the needed nourishment that keeps things strong and alive while continuing to grow during this difficult time of these rainless days.
Unfortunately, for the vast majority of dryland corn in the area, there is no relief.
Farmers have begun chopping their scorched fields of corn that haven’t received rain and have been continuously beaten by the hot Kansas winds. This corn won’t be harvested this fall with golden kernels filling grain elevators. Instead it’s become almost a total loss and will be harvested for forage instead of grain, and fed to livestock.
For the last few days I’ve had a song stuck in my head. I’ve caught myself singing or humming it A LOT lately. It’s by a band by the name of Tenth Avenue North. The song is called Love is Here.
Come to the water
You who thirst
And you’ll thirst no more
People keep referencing the dire situation of 1980.
Come to the father
You who work
And you’ll work no more
They keep telling Adam and I that this is the next 1980.
And all you who labor in vain
And to the broken and shamed
I’ve refrained from asking further—not because I want to stay blissfully ignorant, but because there’s really nothing I can do.
Love is here
Love is now
Love is pouring from His hands
From His brow
Love is near
I can’t control this situation.
Streams of mercy flowing from His side
‘Cause love is here
I think church camp prepared me for a lot more than just the heat this summer… and I think the water is doing a lot more than just keeping things hydrated around here.
Isaiah 55 New International Version (NIV)
Isaiah 55–Invitation to the Thirsty
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”
6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”