Falls Creek – 1920s
I leave for Falls Creek on Monday, and I’m a little nervous. Is that strange? It’s just been so long and so much in my life has changed since the last time I went to camp. Jason and I took a group the summer of 2002. That would be the last time I would see the old Falls Creek, Falls Creek as I remembered it.
I remember when The Sake of the Call campaign began, I had mixed feelings. “Wow, they’ll have a/c. Crazy!” and “Wimpy kids.” to “Can’t anything stay the same?” No, it really can’t I guess. Now as a parent, I can understand why it would be preferable to have over 5,000 kids and adults sit in an enclosed, air conditioned building. Guess I was a tad jealous too. 😉
I always get uber-nostalgic about Falls Creek. I remember the first time I went, I was sixteen, lost as a goose and very nervous about being around that many Christian kids at once. In fact, I didn’t even want to go to camp that summer. I had been in Oklahoma for a year at that point, and my experience with the state was less than wonderful thus far. My friend Jona and I were going through this hippie, listening to The Doors, we’re-too-cool-for-you-guys thing. We wore funky clothes, Converse, and actually read books – for fun. She was the one kid in town with who I could be me without apologizing for my “big city” ways and different style. So we were singled out by the youth minister and Jona’s mom as “two girls who really needed to go to camp.” My parents just wanted me gone for a week. The sullen, “I hate everyone” act was getting on their nerves, and rightly so.
Jona and I wouldn’t ride the church bus. How could we stoop so low? 🙂 Jona’s mom drove us and we complained the entire trip about how lame camp was going to be. And then we got there. I had only had one other youth camp experience in the fifth grade. It was with my friend, Tammy, and it was a Pentecostal camp. It was a strange experience and one I honestly didn’t learn much from except that Pentecostals are very enthusiastic people.
As we entered the camp grounds and got settled in, I could immediately sense a change – like that sly north wind in Chocolat – what God had begun in my heart that previous year was coming to a head.
Not shockingly, I met a handsome boy not an hour into our first day of afternoon free time. He was beautiful and smart, and a recent high school graduate. Whatever was left of my chilly exterior just melted away that afternoon I babbled on about being from Austin, Texas and my favorite book – Les Miserables and how I just loved Nirvana. While this romantic sub-plot was taking place, the real Romance swept me up as the week wore on. I can’t say that it was a particular message during the evening service or a certain devotional that sent me tumbling into the Father’s arms – it was a culmination of many factors that I know God had set up to make my heart ready to believe, to open my eyes to my sinful condition and see a need for a savior, to fill me with hope and joy – to take everything I had ever known and show me something a million times better.
It was a Wednesday night, and we were having our after-service devotional. My new “friend” had walked me back to my cabin just a half-hour before and in a shaded corner, at the bend of the road given me a sweet kiss – I swear I saw fireworks! The devotional time turned into a time of confession amongst many in the youth group. Our small town had experienced a tragedy that same year with a kid from our same youth group taking his own life after not taking his ADD medication for several days. The kids were hurting. I was hurting, but for completely different reasons. Being new in a town where the majority of the other kids have grown up together like family is rough. I wasn’t treated so nice for that first year, and I missed my friends from Austin terribly. Yet, those friends had moved on with their lives while I felt stuck between two worlds. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. My parents weren’t getting along, and my middle sister was getting into trouble, running with the wrong crowd. I literally felt like my life was falling apart, and that if there was a god – it was his fault.
Still, He wooed me relentlessly. That Wednesday night my eyes opened, my ears heard, and my heart understood the beauty and the sacrafice – the love of the Cross. At a time when I wasn’t sure that anyone loved me – I saw THAT love and I lept for it without a second thought. In the corner of that dusty, cramped dining hall I quietly begged the Lord to forgive me of my sin and the take up residence in my heart. I believed!
I have always loved stories in the New Testament when Jesus restored sight to the blind – because that’s how I felt, like scales fell from my eyes. What was a world of flat, dull grays and blacks was now technicolor.
Here I am, almost 15 years later still adjusting these eyes to the colorful majesty of His grace. I hope and I pray that no matter what changes at camp that there’s a girl out there, just like me all those years ago, who is just waiting to fall in love. I can’t wait!
Falls Creek – 2008