We just got home from picking up our daughter from spending two weeks at a Camp, which is about 2.5hrs north of us in a little town called Paris, Ontario. Now, to look at this place you wouldn’t be blown away by any means. You’d think it’s pretty much a glorified trailer park for Pentecostals. I know, the picture I paint is bleak, but this is actually the place I grew up each and every summer and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. To be honest, some updates are really impressive and I know that the staff has done an amazing job in the past few seasons making the grounds come alive again. For my childhood, it was a place of games and friends and encounters with God that I could will forget…. And now to see my daughter as excited as I was to traipse around the campgrounds with wide eyed wonder brings my heart so much joy.
The one thing that pangs my heart is that this was a place where I had the joy and honor of not only encountering God as a child and a teen but it was a place where I had many opportunities to preach Jesus and lead many into great worship moments. If you’ve followed the main story I blogged about a little more than a year ago, you’ll know that my bad decisions have rendered future ministry moments, in this specific place, void. Now, this isn’t the focus on what I want to convey in this writing, but Camp is a place that holds my past and my future in tension.
What I was.
What I am.
What I want to become.
A friend came down from Toronto for the day to meet up. (I even have a smile on my face as I write this and that’s probably because I literally don’t have anyone in my life that is as real and as bold in his convictions as this guy.) He’s stuck by my side through the mountain top times and just as close through the moments where he even put his reputation on the line for my name’s sake.
Here’s where I wanna go with this…
He said something that hasn’t left my thoughts since the moment he spoke them. As we were driving around, pumping some Wu-Tang Clan through that stereo, he spoke so much life into my soul. “You know what? I get to watch the water turn into the wine while others who left and decide to judge from afar; they unfortunately miss out on the miracle.”
I was floored.
And not only for the honor my friend was speaking over my life in the moment, but for the fact that conviction landed on me in the best way possible. How easy is it for us, in our flesh, to write off a person who has wronged up.
Maybe it was a family member.
Maybe it was a life-long friend.
Maybe it was a confidant who you trusted with your deepest darkest secrets only to be hurt by them in one way or another.
My friend is an amazing example to me of what it can and should look like to be called a follower of Christ. To take what we read in the Word and to live it out uncompromisingly, no matter what situation is placed before us.
I think something that I need to work on is what I would refer to as ‘situational grace.’ Those wavering moments where you’ll love and forgive someone for one thing, and yet justify in one way or another the reasons why you just can’t forgive someone else. It’s sloppy. It’s not of God. It’s usually a spirit of hypocrisy that leads me to think that I have the right to harbor anger and bitterness and judgment because “I feel ______”.
I think it’s a safe bet to say that most, if not all of us would love to reconcile, or at least be seen in the light of grace by those that were once in our lives and are no longer because of messy situations. We’d love the grace to be extended but I truly believe this must start within our hearts first.
Extend grace daily.
Yes, boundaries and healthy relationships are a must; please don’t be somebody’s doormat. We must do our best to love and honor one another on whatever level life allows in each moment.
I’ll leave you with these two scriptures.
1 Corinthians 4:21
Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
I’m thankful for a brother who could have beat me down with a rod but chose to correct me and call me out of my issues with a gentle grace that continually leaves me shaking my head, in a good way of course.
Hope this has found you well my friends.
Go enjoy that summer sun!