I've been sitting here for a while debating in my own mind whether or not I want to write anything today. It's been somewhat of a long and exhausting week, and I'm pretty tired and want to get home in time to watch Baseball Tonight. But, luckily for you, the chipotle chicken sandwich I just ate has given me a fresh breath of vigor and energy. Now hopefully this Pepsi will spark a few interesting thoughts.
I went to high school camp this last week. It was my third and final week of camp for the summer, and now I just have two more weeks of my internship before I head to California for a bit and then live the thug life in Topeka before school starts. I've been fortunate in that the church I'm interning at goes to King Solomon Christian Camp, which is my home camp. I have an odd knack for retaining random insignificant memories, and I can still vaguely remember when I first arrived at King Solomon as a nine-year-old and my brother and I started the week by playing a game of horseshoes.
I have been to King Solomon as a camper seven or eight times as a camper, as well as five times as a sponsor. So it is the home of many memories for me. Writing direction to the Gnarly Waterfountain on the boys' dorm wall. Watching Jayne Long fall flat on her face because her legs fell asleep on the swings. Celebrating Area-Wide Friendship Day, followed immediately by Playday. Seeing Jr. High kids start bawling because we momentarily made them think the end of the world had come. Granted, none of this makes any sense to any but a few of you, but for me they're vivid memories planted in my mind. King Solomon is also the location for many spiritual milestones, especially in high school. In high school, the summer was always a period of growth for me thanks to the Bible Bowl tournaments and CIY and mission trips. Camp was always the first week of June, so it sort of got the ball rolling for me.
It was a little serene when I left camp yesterday. I'm not sure if I'll ever be there again because right now my future is somewhat up in the air. In my first couple years at Ozark, I had always wanted to do my internship at University, so I knew that there was a decent chance I would be back as a sponsor. But I don't know where I'll be or what I'll be doing next summer. Chances are it won't be in northeast Kansas. And after that I'll be graduated and it's even less uncertain where I'll be. So it's weird to think about how my feet may never again step in a place that has held such a significant place in my life so far.
Places are important in the Bible. This is easy to tell because they're mentioned so frequently, and handy maps are sometimes needed at the end of the Bible just so that we can make sense of what's what. God meets with and works for people at a number of specific places. He calls Abraham and promises to give him a certain land. He speaks to Moses on Mt. Sinai, first in the burning bush and later to give him the Law. Joshua commands that a pile of stones be set up at Gilgal so that people can see it and remember how God brought them across the Jordan. And God has a special dwelling at the temple in Jerusalem where all the Israelites come to worship him.
We too might have a set of places that we consider especially important. Places where we've encountered God and where he has spoken to us in special ways. King Solomon is such a place for me, and I have memories of other places. I remember the basement room in a dorm at Colorado State University where it dawned on me that being a good kid and knowing the answers doesn't substitute for a relationship with Christ. Or the hill near Chanute, Kansas where it seemed like I could see every blip of light God placed in the sky.
At a camp I worked at last year, the speaker once preached on the story of Zacchaeus. He focused on Luke 19:5, which says, "When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.'" The preacher had a bunch of "spots" cut out of paper, and he gave them to the students and asked them about their "spots." About places where they met God. Probably all of us have such places. I often hear them described as "sacred spaces." We can think of specific locales where God encountered us.
The sacred spaces are important, I think. It's good for us to have places that we can both visit and reflect on that help us to see God more clearly. But perhaps too often, we rely to heavily on such places. We think that only there are we able to meet God. It's like we have a spiritual battery, and we need these battery chargers in order to maintain a living faith. While these places are helpful in boosting us in our walks with Christ, we can be in danger of using them as a crutch to support a lazy Christianity.
Imagine that Moses never came down from Mt. Sinai. God speaks through the burning bush, and Moses is so awestruck by the event that he decides to pitch his tent there to live out the rest of his days. Israel never would have been liberated from Egypt, and the Old Testament would be mighty, mighty short. I don't think we're meant to stay in these sacred spaces forever. Rather, we go out from there to live out our faith. We can't stay at camp/CIY/Ozark indefinitely. These places refresh us and prepare us for the world.
The beautiful thing is that, in a sense, we all have a portable sacred space. Or rather we are a portable sacred space. 1 Corinthians 6:19 calls our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit. The God who meets us at these physical sacred spaces dwells within us. He goes everywhere with us. We don't have to be afraid to venture out of our places of spiritual comfort because the Comforter is with us each step of the way. It's good for us to take opportunities to visit our sacred spaces from time to time, but it's foolish for us to think that we can't find God elsewhere. A person can't sleep in a crib forever.
With all of that being said, one place that I hold very dearly is Ozark Christian College, and I'm growing increasingly anxious to return there for the fall semester. I miss all my fellow Ozarkans a great deal and I look forward to seeing you all again and hearing about your summers. I hope all is going great for all of you. Plus, there's no Chick-fil-A in Manhattan.