Praise God for another week of blessings that leave me speechless and completely inebriated by the goodness that overflows from the net of the Almighty and nearly sinks the boat. One look in the mirror and it is completely clear that I do not deserve what I have been given. My life, and the debt paid for it, remains a scandal.
A couple of weeks ago at youth camp I handed out a spiritual survey to my young group of students. The survey measured where each camper stood in relation to spiritual strength. How many times a week do they read the Bible, obey their parents, give sacrificially, pray for others, etc. A score of zero would be just that and a 10 would mean they do it all the time.
It’s no secret that my campers sit on the outside of the city gates. Most are passed in the hallways like they are invisible. They are the last pick, if picked at all, during recess football games. Bullies are an ever-present topic of conversation and when I think of kids in middle school, my group would in fact be the least of these. Most of them are popular for the wrong reasons. You will not find them in all-star positions, and you will not find them at the cool kid’s party. However, on this particular weekend, and during this particular event, my group teamed up with those who do hold these prestigious positions. They shared the same cabin space with kids who have no trouble getting a girlfriend, are usually team captains and who seem to land on their feet every time they fall. During this time of spiritual questioning, I was not that surprised to see so many 12-year-olds finish in the 90s and 100s. In sixth grade you are bulletproof and more interested in what people think than being honest with yourself. And who am I kidding? I too have embellished an answer here and there, especially when graded in front of my peers. The mirror of self-reflection does not exist and a 10 just sounds better. Those on the opposite side of the tracks celebrated from bunk to bunk as one tried to outdo the other in terms of high score.
Walking around the room, talking with each boy as to what they answered, and why I came to my group. The combined average was 14. My heart immediately broke, and I could not fight back the tears. Up until this point, I have questioned my involvement with this since the beginning of the semester. Why God has me here and what His plan could possibly be working with kids I cannot relate to. I have diligently sought to find the answers and for the most part, heaven has persisted in being silent. As I did my best to hide my face and the water pouring from my eyes, Jesus Christ Himself stepped in and reminded me there will be more rejoicing in heaven over the one who knows he’s lost versus the 99 who don’t. The doors of paradise flew open, and the angels sang holy, holy, holy. My knees buckled and I was on the floor in seconds as the answer rattled the wooden beds with a vivid picture of just who it was that ran back to say thank you and why I too have been guilty of walking by and denying water.
Quite possibly the greatest lesson this 49-year-old body has ever heard. From the hearts of the lepers outside the wall.