I don’t believe it has been done formally so I would like to welcome everyone to our new blog home. It has taken a few weeks to get everything figured out, get things moved over and to get you all invited and subscribed. Apologies for the weeks without the devotion, but the long wait is over.
More exciting news is that we have many new contributors, from other spec today facilitators to campers such as yourselves (if you feel led to share, please let us know). We realize that not every devotion will speak to you, but as is the nature of many activities from camps, reunions and spec, simply being open to the experience can have profound impact on your life. Now that the administrative details are over, I want to welcome you again. In life for one reason or another, obstacles, becoming overwhelmed or simply losing track of things, we have to restart. Now this doesn’t mean that we lose all of the progress we have made, the goals we have reached simply go away, just as in the case of our devotional, the plan God has for our lives can get away from us. Even as we try our best to keep up, we can get lost and so we must restart. This week’s introduction come us from camper Josh Soulliere (North Atlantic Delegation).
This week’s theme is restart. To me there is a particular story that reminds me of restarting. The story goes that a man is hiking through the woods, when all of a sudden he falls into a hole. He stays stuck there when all of a sudden a man approaches. The fallen man yells for help but the man above the hole does not here him and keeps walking. A few minutes later another one man approaches. The man in the hole yells for help once again. The new man above hears him and says he has no rope, ladder, or tools to help. The man above apologizes then leaves. Finally ten minutes later a new man arrives and notices the other man in the hole asking for help. The man above leaps off of the trail in the hole with other man. He tells the other man who had fallen early that he too had once fallen in this hole. He then points out that there is a tunnel out of the whole that was unseen before. Both men then proceed to make the journey out of the hole together.
In life we all at one point fall off the trail and into a hole. It can happen so quickly that we don’t even know what happened; all we know is that we are trapped in a space we don’t enjoy. For me this time was in the beginning middle school. If being shy, awkward, and confused like most teens my age wasn’t enough, I was going to a new middle school surrounded by completely new people. That idea terrified me in all honesty. When change happens we can lose our path and end up falling in such holes. In sixth grade I felt stuck living in the past rather than being present and living in the moment. As in the story I felt that my new and old friends either didn’t see me stuck or didn’t know how to help and didn’t address the issue. I felt that I was stuck there forever. In my mind I felt hopeless and that there was just no time to restart. This further sent me into a hard depression that year. However, my story changed when I talked to my best friends about how I really felt. My friend helped me find an advisor. Like the man who jumped in the hole to help the fallen man, my advisor and my best friend helped me by showing me an unforeseen path in my hole, which we all walked together. Today I might still have been stuck in such a hole if I hadn’t reached out and gotten the help I needed.
Moment of Reflection
Take a few moments to think about all the things you’ve accomplished so far this year, academically, personally or any realm that it is important to you. What happened according to plan? What things occurred completely unplanned or out of your control? What goals did you fall short of? In our moments of highest achievement or when we fall short, it is helpful ask God to help keeps us grounded. We have to ask God, to hit the restart.
This week’s scripture comes to us from Isaiah 43:18-19
Forget the Past
The Lord said:
18 Forget what happened long ago!
Don’t think about the past.
19 I am creating something new.
There it is! Do you see it?
I have put roads in deserts,
streams[a] in thirsty lands.
Isaiah 43:18-19, is composed of three simple, yet profound, statements said by the Lord. He says to us, “Remember not the former things, nor consider things of the old.” This is His way of telling us to forget what our pasts contain. We can’t go back and alter our past; so simply forget about it. The things we have done, the things that keep us from finalizing our relationship with Christ and that make us feel unworthy of such a radical love, are only things we even still consider. Our God has long forgotten our sins. He has taken our mistakes and has casted them out into a sea of forgetfulness, never to reel them back in, and never to use them against us. To Him our past isn’t what matters. To Him it’s what we do with the now.
He goes on to tell us, “behold, I am doing a new thing.” “Now it springs fourth, do you not perceive it?” God wants us to do good. He is giving us a new moment, a new chance, just so we may do better than we did the time before. Our God is such a forgiving God. His second chances are plentiful and His forgiveness and grace know no bounds. He goes on to question “do you not perceive it?”, and to me that’s almost a phrase with disappointment behind it. He is so excited and ready to show us redemption and a new beginning, but we are still blinded by our past that we seem to fail to see the opportunity to become new that He has placed right in front of us. He’s saying “I’m trying to show you that I forgive you, and that I love you, and that I haven’t given up on you. Can you not see it? Let me, please, let me give you a new beginning.”
“I will make a way in the wilderness.” He says, “and run rivers in the desert.” Even in the midst of our chaotic lives, when we make a mess of ourselves, God will search for us. He will find us and He will show us the way out. When our faith runs dry and our days, now barren, begin filling with doubt, God will replenish us. He will drown us in His love and in His grace.
Our God is a jealous God. He is jealous for your attention, and for your heart, and for your soul. All he wants is you. How you are, how you were, and how you will be. (Sydney Leal, Texas New-Mexico Delegation)
Drawing to A Close
As we draw to a close for this week, think back to your spec experience. When you had obstacles or failures, let downs during the week. Maybe it was not winning at a particular sport, or not getting to attend an elective you really wanted to. Whatever the hardship may be that you faced at spec, or in life, remember that God helps us to let go. To not carry around the burdens of the past, but instead empowers us with his love to start a new.