Friday, March 23, 2007
In the Light
I went away for an overnight campout /retreat last night, to spend some time thinking and praying.
I stayed at Conto campsite near Margaret River, a place I've camped many times in the past with groups of kids and young adults. It was good to go back to some familiar places and think about some of the good times and special experiences I've had there.
After setting up my tent I went down to the beach for a couple of hours. I had a swim, then sat and watched the sun as it made it's slow and steady descent to the horizon. I sat with my journal and noted my thoughts and observations and in particular the coming and going of the light.
One of my favourite songs is called "In the Light" by DC Talk and as I sat there I felt strongly the need to get back to the light of God and to stop playing around in the shadows. It was a powerful metaphor as the bright shimmering sunlight playing on the ocean drew nearer to me then the clouds parted and the sun broke through.
I've been a Christian for over 20 years and without meaning to or wanting to, I realise that I have let slip some of the habits and values that I used to have that helped me in my relationship with God.
Retracing old steps helped me think again about what I've been doing and how that affects how I've been feeling.
I played a Keith Green tape in the car while I was driving and remembered how much I love his music and how strong and clear his songs were, urging people to be faithful in following God.
Back at the campsite I cooked some snags for tea and enjoyed reading by the fire. Is there any better place to be in the world than sitting at a campfire?
Because I'd realised I was seeking a fresh start and a new beginning with God I read the first two chapters of Genesis, the book of beginnings.
I was struck by a verse at the end of chapter 2. "The man and the woman were naked and they were not ashamed".
The beach had been deserted except for a lone fisherman several hundred metres further round so when I swam I went in without my clothes on. I don't know why exactly, it just felt like the right thing to do.
As I read the verse it struck me that that's what I wanted, to be naked before God and not be ashamed. Not just without clothes on, but to be totally vulnerable and open to God, to have my heart and soul bared to him and not feel any shame or guilt, to be freed and released from those negative and destructive feelings.
It felt good to relate to God in that way.
I went to bed pretty early for me, about 10.30, and although I woke up several times from 3.30 onwards, I slept for over 12 hours, also a rarity for me. The Ranger woke me up to collect the camping fees.
When I got up a bus load of kids on a camp had just arrived and the leader came over to introduce himself and check whether their arrival was going to be a problem for me.
It came as no surprise to discover that he was from Scripture Union and the camp was a Warriuka.
Years ago I helped run several Warriuka camps with my mate Laurie and later with Ross and Dave his successors.
I had already been thinking about some of the camps we'd run at Margaret River and how great they had been and how much I'd felt used by God to share the gospel with teenagers.
On this trip of fresh starts I don't think it was any coincidence that I crossed paths with a Warriuka camp.
After packing up I spent the last few hours down at another beach marvelling at the mighty power of the waves as they crashed time and time again over the huge rocks around the little bay at The Point, just south of Conto's.
I feel refreshed and renewed. I've got a long way to go but I feel like I have started the journey, and it feels good.