Monday, February 22, 2016

A word of encouragement for all the beautiful "Burkies" in my life

So, what exactly is a "Burkie"?

Grace and I spent the past week at a family Christian camp in Burke, N.Y.  The camp is called Burke Camp. Which makes sense. And the campers? Burkies.

What can I say? It works for us. Plus, it's fun to say.


Burke Camp is an amazing place, a small, loving community in a gorgeous, rugged setting. Yes, rugged. Because having to walk 2 minutes to the bathroom in the middle of the night counts as roughing it in my books.

Burke Camp is very much a spiritual retreat for most of its campers.  There are Bible studies and evening services with youth and adult evangelists, prayer walks and activities that serve to teach and encourage our faith.  What I find most lovely about Burke Camp is that ministry happens all over the camp, at all times of the day, and by all the campers.  People are encouraged and taken care of, prayed over and with, counseled and listened to, hugged and loved in a million different ways.  This year, my spirit was ministered to by a baby, who let me hold her and love on her in complete trust, a teen-age boy who came to me after a service and offered a word of encouragement from God, the evangelist who listened and counseled me, and the youth pastor who, in praying for me at the altar after one evening service, spoke two scripture verses over me that God had given to me many, many years ago.  The spiritual work that happens at Burke Camp is powerful and life changing, and very, very real.

One of the concerns that sometimes troubles campers as they leave the grounds for the last time at the end of camp is how to continue on with the work that has started at Burke.  When God has given us guidance and healing in our relationships, when we have been encouraged in our work and families, when we have recognized and dealt with sinful attitudes and behaviours that have been wreaking havoc in our lives,  how do we keep moving forward once we hit the real world?

The last day of camp was July 20th, and that morning as I read my devotion from Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest", I had to smile to myself as God placed the answer before me.

Isaiah 40:31 says, "those who hope in  the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Oswald Chambers writes, "Having the reality of God's presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence."

So often, as we leave a place or time of intense spiritual growth and learning, we come away with questions. What do I do now?  How do I keep it going? How can I avoid messing this up?  The common denominator in all of these inquiries is "I".  The problem is, when it comes to spiritual things, "I" didn't do the work in the first place, so "I" am not going to be able to keep it up. What I can do is place myself in the hands of the One who has worked in me and changed my heart.  I can "show up." I can be. And He will do the rest.

What does this look like, practically?  It looks like life. It looks like obeying what we already know while living out our lives. It's obedience in the mundane.   Washing dishes and changing the oil in the car, buying groceries and going to meetings, taxiing kids to piano lessons and jogging in the park, walking the dog and changing the cat litter, making peanut butter sandwiches and steaks on the grill, brushing our teeth and changing our socks. It's about living, and doing it all with God. Living in the love that we have now, for God and others, and believing that as we walk through our lives, God is changing our hearts and giving us more of Himself, more of His love.  Have we messed up? We apologize, ask forgiveness and trust that God is working.

Philippians 1:6 says that God, who began the good work in us, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  We can trust Him.

Walking with God is about talking to Him and listening to Him, reading the Bible and obeying what He is showing us, speaking words of life and not death and lots of asking when we fail.  Basically, it's trusting in the reality of God's Presence in our lives, and living in the truth of our intimate relationship with Him. 

Oh, and having fun.  Can't forget the having fun part.

After all, we are Burkies.

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