Young Life….One of God’s Gifts

My husband and I were on vacation last week. We went to Sedona, Flagstaff and Williams Arizona. The main reason we went on this trip was to see our daughter Leah while she was working at a Young Life camp called Lost Canyon. I love Young Life and I love being at Young Life camp! God used this ministry so much in my life in high school, college and into motherhood and it still does. I feel like I am at home when I am at a camp. I love the atmosphere of laughter, love, fun, relationships and of course hearing about kids’ lives being changed by Jesus! I like to sit and watch the kids interact and there is something about being out in His creation that helps me connect even more with Him. I love to reflect and think about all that He has done for me when I look at the trees, mountains, sky, stars, etc. I like to think that heaven will look a little bit like a Young Life camp!

There was a lake placed in the middle of Lost Canyon. One of the things I reflected on while looking out on this lake was God’s ability to help me through all my struggles. There was a term that I learned while reading Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. He used the term “struggling successfully” in his book. He basically says, “Don’t run from the struggles! Embrace them and grow! View the struggles in light of what they provide for you spiritually rather than in light of what they take from you emotionally.” I know that God put things in my life to help me struggle successfully and one of them was Young Life. No one knew what was going on in my home, but those leaders still ministered to me by showing me love and also showing me I could still have fun. I can look back at my high school years with joy because of the friendships, the ski trips, the camp experiences, the bible studies, the weekends, the clubs, the breakfasts, the Chinese fire drills on the way to club and the community of Christ that gave me what I needed to survive.

I really love everything about camp, but I think my favorite part of it is club. Young Life skits and games are the best way to have fun! It never gets old to me. The program guys get up there and do goofy things and then they have the leaders and the kids do goofy things. This year I watched the kids’ faces more than I ever have. I can’t tell you the joy it brought me to see them laughing as I watched their faces light up. I wondered how many of them came from difficult homes like I did. I wondered how many didn’t enjoy being home like I did. I also wondered how many of them were pretending that everything was okay like I did. I wondered how many of them were from difficult home lives and were desperate inside to get away for a while from all the stress and dysfunction. You see, I did everything I could to stay away from home. Young Life gave me the escape I desperately needed to get away and have fun! I loved every minute of it! I know that God gave me this ministry to help me get through those years. It was the light in my life that I needed. So as I watched the kids laugh at camp during club and do the silly skits, watching their leaders get up there and do the same thing, it made me reflect on all the times I had in high school. How God allowed me to laugh and have fun even when life wasn’t fun! I was reminded of God’s tender care for me because He knew what I needed even when I didn’t specifically ask for it. He knew I needed this ministry in my life.

I just realized this year how much the music at camp means to me. I love music! You get to sing at club and hear music at all the meals and activities. I especially love to watch the kids put their arms around each other during the slow songs. At Young Life camp, after club one night the campers leave the club room and have a quiet time with God outside under the stars. One thing I got to experience this time was watching the work crew and summer staff sing a song of worship outside after the kids were alone for awhile. The stars were absolutely brilliant that night! I balled like a baby! That singing reminded me of Zephaniah 3:17, “He rejoices over you with singing.

One thing they do at Young Life camp now at the end of the week is put all the tables together outside and line them up to create one humongous table. They call it the banquet table. They tell the kids that we will all be seated at this table with Jesus in heaven. I can’t tell you how it made me feel to see all those faces smiling and laughing while they sat with each other in their different communities but all sharing the same table. What a beautiful representation of what it will be like in heaven when we will all be together laughing and celebrating with our Creator. It made me think about all the struggles that we endure while we are here on the earth that will be gone when we get to heaven. There will be no more pain or suffering when we get to heaven! I can’t wait to run into Jesus’ arms and say, “I am so glad to be here! Now, put me in the Young Life section please!”

The one thing I want you to know is I have realized that God always puts good things around us when we are struggling. Sometimes we see them and sometimes we don’t. I have to be honest and say that I was blind many times to the things that God was placing in my life to help me because I was so focused on my problems. We can “struggle successfully” when we step back and look at the situation through God’s eyes. There are so many things I didn’t realize that God was doing until I started journaling in my forties. I have been able to go back and see things that He clearly placed in my life to help me. There is a book called 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. In the back of the book, she has a place for you to list 1,000 gifts in your life. I think it took me about a year to write them all down. This book made me start looking for the gifts in my life. It gave me so much joy to step back and look at everything that God was giving me or doing for me. When I started looking at my life that way, it really helped me see God working and I began to appreciate Him so much more. I was even able to thank Him for all the struggles because of all the good that was coming from them. We can take our darkest days and give them to Him and even thank Him for them. Even though a lot of my darkest days were when I was living with my father, God brought friends, neighbors, church, salvation, Young Life, bible studies, camp, ski trips and a Christian community that gave me the support I needed.

I really could go on and on about this ministry. If you would like to share a story with me about Young Life or anything else that God has given you, I would love to hear them. I love seeing God in action and would love to hear what God has done for you. I consider it an honor to be going on this journey with you! And I have to say Happy 75th to Young Life as they celebrate their anniversary in ministry. God has used you so much in my life and I am so grateful to Him and the work that He continues to do in me and in others around the world! Go God!!!!!!

I would like to challenge you to take the time to start you own list of things that are gifts from God. It really does help your perspective when you can start looking for the good in your struggles. Until next time dear friends!

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

One thought on “Young Life….One of God’s Gifts

  1. Laurie,,Young Life was also a big part of my life and probably one of the few highlights of my childhood. Like you, I also had secrets to hid from the outside world. My father was an alcoholic and not a very nice one. We would sometimes see dad’s car pull into the driveway, run to get in bed and pretend to be asleep. Like you, I strived to be the perfect child, obey the rules, get good grades and make my daddy proud. How many A honor students do you know that dreaded bringing their report card home because it was not straight As? After my dad died (he was only 50) my pastor encouraged me to forgive my dad even though he was not living and wasn’t asking for forgiveness. Man, that was hard and would have been impossible with God. It was my prayer for the Lord to help me forgive dad even though I didn’t think he deserved forgiveness. It was a process. I totally get your blog and thankful for the healing that comes from it.

    Blessings,
    Susan

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