About the first week in June, Spencer came to me and asked me to give a girl’s devotional thought at church camp, which would happen in 2.5 weeks. I told him I would, and he gave me a question to answer: How do you know when you a more spiritually weaker than normal? What do you do when you are spiritually weak?
I didn’t quite know how to answer it, and I became frustrated with the question. Spencer couldn’t help me, and whenever I would ask him what he thought about my answer, he would just say “Hmm…” So every text I sent him with a thought, I would just ignore my thought because I didn’t think that’s what he wanted.
He eventually gave up on the question which was given to me, and he told me to just tell the girls what my faith is and how my faith has grown. He wanted the girls to see me outside of church camp. But I still had trouble. I wanted it to be perfect (that’s how I want everything to be), but I just couldn’t get it to work out.
So, I just left the devotional thought alone, and I focused on the youth group events and my summer class of Thermodynamics. I left the devotional alone, until the night before I left for camp. That’s not the typical Amy move, but it happened.
The Saturday night before camp, I went to Tana’s house, and she helped me. She gave me an activity to do, which fell PERFECTLY into my thought that I had written out 15 minutes before going to her house.
I left Tana’s house in an hour, and went to Walmart, then went back home, and started packing. I finished my devotional at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, and finished packing at 3 a.m. Then got some sleep, woke up really early to get all my things for camp together and to get ready for church, and then left for church. As soon as church let out, I left for camp.
Sundays at camp are all weird and such, but I still love it. It’s the first day, so you don’t really know what to do. No one knows the schedule, and the kids are all kinds of crazy.
I hadn’t even looked at my notes for my devotional the following night, and I sure didn’t want to. I’m not big on public speaking when it comes down to people I don’t necessarily know (classroom public speaking), but when I speak to my church family or the youth group or my group of friends, I am perfectly fine. But this was different. I was scared to get in front of the group of girls and give them my take on my faith and my life and what Jesus has done for me. I told some of the camp girls that it wasn’t going to be any good because I was a little nervous, but they didn’t really care.
Monday afternoon, it’s swim time. I let two of the girl counselors go watch the girls while they swim, and me and another counselor go down to the game room and the craft room to watch over the other kids. I told myself I was going to read over my notes, but if there’s crafts, ping-pong, and pool around me, that definitely isn’t going to happen. So I played pool. I played ping-pong, and then I made crafts. Didn’t look at my notes for even 5 minutes.
Monday night finally comes, and we all walk up to the bluff for singing time. We sing some songs, one in particularly, Firm Foundation, and then Spencer announces that I will be giving a devotional thought with the girls, and another male counselor will be taking off to the softball field for the boys devotional thought.
Yay. It’s go time, Amy. The boys leave, and I’m left alone with the girls. I unpack all of my things, and I sure did take my time. Then I started my devotional thought, and I will share that with you in this post…
I started off with the notes right in front of me, ready to read straight off of it. But instead, I left the podium, and just talked to them. Didn’t go by my notes whatsoever, and I still have no idea how I did that.
I told them that were were going to be playing a game. It wasn’t really a game game, but we’re gonna pretend like it’s a game. I passed out lego pieces to all the girls, and then I passed out Sharpies.
I held a brick in my hand, and told the girls to tell me some things that they struggle with as a Christian. My example for them was that you may struggle with being patient, or you may struggle with being positive during tough times.
The girls started to raise their hands, and I got many answers. Some of the answers were:
- Family issues
- Peer pressure
- Being nice to others
As they told me these struggles, I grabbed a Sharpie and started to write all of the things they told me down on the brick that I held.
I then picked up my Lego piece, and told them to look at theirs. I told them that I wanted them to write one thing down on the Lego piece that they do to cope with the struggle that was written on the brick. My example to them was to pray for patience. Ask God to help you in this, and He will.
The girls started to write down some things, and then I had two girls collect the Lego pieces. As this was going on, I talked to them about faith.
- Think positively
- Think about happy thoughts
Faith isn’t something that happens overnight. Sometimes it may feel that your daily growth in faith seems as if it is nonexistent, meaning that faith takes a long time to grow, and like I said, it doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s very easy to become frustrated with slow progress, but sometimes slow progress can be a good thing. The slow progress gives us a chance to look back at everything and see how God has been working in our lives by growing and developing our faith.
I then started to talk a little about myself, telling them that I was a civil engineering student, and so buildings and bridges and things like that were my specialty (haha). I asked them if they had ever watched something being built, either a dresser, a bed, a house, etc.
I told them that no matter what is being built, it’s going to take time. Probably a lot of time, too. As a bricklayer places one brick upon the other to build a large tower, he may feel as if his progress is insignificant, yet the tower has to be built one brick at time. It’s impossible to just do black magic and throw something together, and boom, a building is before us! It doesn’t work like that. It’s one step at a time. Progress. The tower, being built one brick at a time, is the same as our Christian lives.
Our faith is growing one step at a time, just like the brick laying process. God doesn’t make changes in our lives at one time. He makes big changes thru a series of little changes. We have to learn to trust God for the little things. And just like any other growing experience, living by faith is taking one step at a time.
Around this time, I asked the two girls who collected the Lego’s if they would come build a house for me, but the house had specifications. The house, or the foundation, had to be able to fit an egg inside it.
The girls began to build it, and then I had someone read Matthew 7:24-29.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practiceis like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
We talked about the wise man and the foolish man. I asked them what the wise man had that the foolish man didn’t, which made his house fall down. I waited for an answer, and finally a little girl came up with it. She said, “He had faith.” Yes, he did have faith, but he also had something else. I began to motion my hands to what the girls were building, and then someone else got it. “He had a foundation.” Yes, he did have a foundation, but he had a FIRM foundation. I told them that we sang the song just a few moments ago, and it was a powerful song (even though I hate that song because the SSYG sang it TOOOOOOO many times when I was young).
I let the girls watch the two girls build the house, or the foundation. I let them notice that as they were building it, they were working together, and that they were building it one lego at a time.
When the two girls finished the foundation, I grabbed the egg, and I held it in front of all the girls. I explained to them that the egg was our soul, and what was just built was our foundation. I placed the egg in the foundation, and let them notice what was happening.
As I placed the egg into the foundation, I reminded them that the egg was our soul, and the legos were our foundation. I grabbed the brick, which had all of our struggles and challenges written on it, and I asked them what were to happen if I was to place the brick onto the foundation. I asked them if the foundation would fall or if it would hold. They weren’t too sure (neither was I because the girls built it super weird, haha), but I placed the brick on the foundation (very carefully, I did), and the foundation stood firm.
I stepped back for a second, and let the girls see what was happening. As the brick was placed on the legos, it stayed firm. The legos, which represented the foundation of our faith, and the brick, which represented our sins. I let them see that whenever we have a strong and firm foundation, nothing can keep us from having faith to God.
I grabbed my other egg, and put it on the ground. I reminded them that the egg was still our soul, and I grabbed the brick off of the foundation. I asked them what would happen to the egg if I were to place the brick on the egg. All the little girls shouted “IT WILL CRACK!” I stepped back from the egg and was shocked. I asked them why the egg would crack, or why they thought the egg would crack. The little girls knew their stuff, and said “It’s going to crack because nothing is protecting it,” and another says, “there’s no foundation.”
I placed the brick on the egg, and the egg was crushed. I stood up, and stood there, looking at the kids. I walked back to my podium, and got serious.
If we don’t have a firm foundation, our soul is going to be crushed. If we don’t have faith to God, our soul is going to be crushed. You saw it right before your eyes. If you have a firm foundation, you have faith in God. The foundation of our faith is found in Jesus and in all of the wonderful things that He has given us.
I then asked them about their legos. Not the ones they wrote on, but the legos in their life. I asked them what foundations they had in their life, and then I talked to them about what my legos were.
- Youth Group
- When I was a kid, I did everything possible with the youth group at Slicer Street. It was one of the best experiences of my middle school and high school years.
- The main reason I am where I am today is because of what the youth group has done for me as a child, and even now. I’ve been able to work with the youth group as I’m in college, and it’s been a blast.
- Family and friends
- Most of my close ‘family’ and my friends all come from Slicer Street. If I didn’t have my Slicer St. background that I have, I wouldn’t know what to do.
- My parents and my brother are also an important part in my faith. From showing me what love is to showing me what determination and courage is, it’s always been them at home to show me what the Christian family and life should look and act like.
- Reading the Bible
- Before I got baptized, I talked to many friends about the Bible, and I started reading the Bible more. I wanted to actually know what God was saying to me and what He wanted from me.
- Following the Bible
- After reading the Bible and becoming more familiar with what God wanted out of me and what His plan was for me, I started to realize that I needed Him in everyday life. I began to WANT to follow His Word more and more.
- If we don’t truly follow His Word, what is our faith then? Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Not putting our faith into action is the exact same as not having faith.
- Seeking Him
- As Christians, we should want to follow Him. By seeking Him, you are constantly wanting to be like Him, wanting to know more about Him, and wanting to have a relationship with Him.
- Confessing your sins
- When I started to understand more about the Bible from reading it, I wanted to become baptized. So I talked to my youth minister, and he helped me with becoming baptized.
- I chose someone to baptize me that had a big impact on my faith and who I was. I chose my adopted grandpa, Larry McDowell, to baptize me.
- Service projects
- One of the things that I remember most from the youth group is the service projects that we did during the summer and some throughout the school year.
- Service projects made a huge impact on my faith and they continue to do so. Service projects was always one of my favorite things to do with the youth group. It always makes other people happy, and it always made me happy to help others. We are called to serve!
- This one is definitely my favorite. Nature, mountains, outdoorsy things didn’t really have an impact on me until my senior year of high school. My senior trip was a Smokey Mountain Discipleship Camp with the Slicer St. Youth Group, and that was when everything hit me. I loved climbing the mountains during spring break (in the snow), and it showed me more of God and what He has done for me and everyone around me.
- And finally, camp
- Okay, maybe #8 isn’t my favorite. Number eight and nine are a tie….
- My all time favorite part of the summer is church camp for many reasons.
- I really don’t have enough words to say how much camp means to me, and how much each and every one of the campers means to me for giving up a full week of their summer.
- There’s just something about camp that gives me peace and joy. Maybe it’s the full week of being away from the world (in a sense), but I’m not sure. I still don’t have the answer.
- Hearing the bull frogs at night to hearing cicadas, or watching little lizards fight each other on logs and seeing fireflies at night when you have a campfire – it’s all just breathtaking. Every little ting can bring about your faith – you just have to let it grow.
As I finished telling them about my legos in my life, I told them to think about their legos and to also think about how they are building their foundation and faith in Jesus.
After I was finished with my devotional thought, a little girl came up to me and put her hands on my shoulders and was very serious looking. She said, “Amy. That was the best sermon I have ever heard.” I started to laugh, and she walked off. After this was said, I went straight to Spencer and rubbed it in his face. “There’s competition among you,” I told him.
Special thanks to Tana Stewart for always helping me out and for just being awesome.
But there you have it. Amy Johnson’s first devotional thought. I left camp with a full heart, with a heart on fire for Him, and feeling blessed by every single person at camp. The drive home was something else. I had happy tears as the only thing I could say in my car was, “Thank you, God.” over and over and over again. I had no other words besides those three. I do realize that those three words shouldn’t just be said when leaving camp, but rather every single day that I am given by Him.
And now, here I am, at my apartment just now posting this about two months later, sitting on the couch in my room, thinking about all the lovely memories of church camp, and the list just goes on and on. So, here’s what I have left to say:
I love God, and I love church camp.
Thank you, God.