Sometimes I think some of the greatest evidence of the existence of God is actually the extent of the work of Satan in his attempts to keep a person from seeing that. Does that make sense? It does to me, as time and again the same ol' ploys used by the enemy are put into effect to keep me from being where God wants me to be.
This afternoon, there were some battles being waged. I felt nauseous, I wanted to cry, and I felt extremely discouraged. I could give reasons for why all those things were happening, but really they were secondary. The fact was, at 7:00, I was going to be at the Amphitheater at Camp Harlow, participating in a glorious praise night, and listening to Kimmie share her experiences (among many others) of what God has been doing in the lives of those serving and being served at Camp Harlow, and the enemy had no desire to have my heart anywhere near that place.
I absolutely knew this was something I was supposed to be at, not only for Kimmie, not only for the gathering opportunity for our Bible Study group, but because of the longing of my heart. Lately, I've allowed my mind to misconstrue truths, and it's left me empty - as well as very aware of my emptiness. Last night I prayed that God would "meet with me", just as the song lyrics proclaim. Even as I walked through the camp, awaiting the arrival of the rest of our group and attempting small talk, it was as though I was outside of myself, just going through the motions as my focus was so expectant on what was to come. And wouldn't you know it, but that same song I had prayed through the night before, was the first song sung - and for sure (as evidenced by the tears streaming down my face), God most definitely met me there.
Sometimes I find myself letting things that I know are getting in between me and my relationship with God become boulders to create a barrier between us. I fight with this attitude and when I feel like I'm losing, I expect God to be disappointed. Because I never want to be the source of failure to anyone - ESPECIALLY God, I oh-so-subtly allow my shame to keep me from drawing nearer to Him. But, the crazy reality is, now that I'm a parent, I should totally know better! There is not anything in my realm of imagination that my children could ever do that would cause me to ever want distance to come between us, or for me to love them any less. Being a parent puts the "Prodigal" story that seems too-good-to-be-true to the unbiased reader into perspective - as I can now empathize with the longing of that father to simply have his son back.
So, tonight was just what I needed and more. Phenomenal worship, the presence of women in my life who've made such an impact, my husband by my side, my children who've so benefited from everything Harlow's had to offer, and testimony after testimony of the "huge-ness" of God's work there this summer* - but more than all that - this thirst of mine being filled. God, you are so good!!!!
This picture was taken directly behind us in the "Garden of Commitment" - the area of Camp Harlow where campers who've dedicated their lives to Christ etch their names on metal "leaves" that are hung on to beautiful silver branches/trees in this meadow. Could the ambiance get any more perfect for the evening?!
Our entire group made it there except for Courtney....which I'll admit made me sad as I'm not sure when I'll see her again. But, that's not something I will let rob any joy from this perfect evening....
And more pictures I uploaded this morning from Kaela's shots - she did such a great job capturing the evening:
* Among the incredible stories that were shared was one that occurred just this weekend. One of the members of the leadership at Harlow (Amy) had a friend (Ashley) who was very ill and consequently the source of much prayer among the entire camp. On Sunday, her brain swelled to fatal levels and she was declared dead. The entire staff of Harlow mourned for Ashley's family as well as the pain Amy was going through. Three hours later, Amy walked through the staff's doorway announcing Ashley was "alive again". I don't know what all happened during those three hours, what was going on in that ICU, but these are the verified facts: Ashley was declared dead, and then she was alive. While she is still "not out of the woods" this miraculous story has apparently been making its rounds among our community. I'm at a loss of words to "wrap this story up" - so I'll just end it with HALLELUJAH!