Last weekend the teens went on camp, and we had an absolute blast! We all came back with wonderful stories, lasting memories and more than a few bruises.

I went on the trip knowing I would be doing the Newsletter this week. So, while on the camp I looked at every activity or conversation as possible inspiration for the Newsletter. And I was not left wanting.

The first possible parable came when we were walking back from the river, through a field where nothing but thorns were growing. The field was so thick with acacias, devils thorn and paper thorns, the soles of our shoes were soon covered. However, miraculously, hardly any of the thorns made it through the flipflops and crocs most of us were wearing. One of the leaders pointed out this was like the shoes of the gospel of peace; although beneath the surface we might be filled with anxiety and pain, we can still be at peace when we receive God’s protection from our troubles. I thought this was brilliant and quickly made a mental note to keep it as an option for the Newsletter.

Our next activity that day was the zipline. It was immensely fun zooming over the Sundays River yelling like Tarzan (actually more like a Banshee). There was just the minor issue of jumping out of a five-metre-tall tree first. This was easy for some of the teens who were doing stunts on the rope before they had even left the tree. However, for some of the more height conscious members of the team, me included, a little more encouragement was required. We knew that we were strapped in, that there were strong guide ropes and that we couldn’t fall, but all we could focus on, was the very hard looking ground directly below us.

The thing was though, after we had been persuaded (occasionally forcefully) to vacate the tree, it was exhilarating! And even though we knew we’d be scared of jumping out of the tree again, we went back because we knew it would be worth it. Similarly, the fears in our lives so often hold us back from experiences or evangelism that we know will be worth it. Sometimes we need to just take that jump and trust God to be our guide rope, as he leads us into new and exhilarating encounters. These were my thoughts as we headed back to camp again. So now I had two possible Newsletter topics…

The last obvious lesson came when we were driving back to PE. I was stuck behind a school combi going 100km/h in a 120km zone. That’s the maximum speed for minibuses though, so kudos to the driver for following the law. I had every intention of waiting for an open stretch of road and overtaking them. However, anyone who knows the road between PE and Kirkwood, knows that due to trucks, single lane roads and many twisty blind rises, those open stretches are few and far between.

The real kicker was that whenever one of those infrequent open stretches appeared and I started moving to the right to overtake, the bus in front of us did too. There was no-one in front of them that they were trying to overtake, they just kept moving into the middle of the road. Every. Single. Time. We had started the trip belting worship music but after half an hour of this, I was finding it very difficult to sing “It is well with my soul”, with any feeling. Eventually though, I resigned myself to matching the combi’s speed and just enjoying the time of worship with the rest of the team. And with that acceptance and patience came far more joy, than arriving in PE ten minutes earlier would have.

Looking at all of these “lessons” from the weekend and many others not mentioned here, I realise that the actual message for this Newsletter is a simple one. Be open to hearing God. I would not have given much thought to the leader’s comment about the thorns, the zipline of faith or the lesson in patience if I had not actively been listening for God’s message.

Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things, you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

This isn’t to say, interpret everything you experience as a lesson from God, but rather be prepared to hear God in anything. Our God is a wonderful teacher, and He loves a good object lesson or practical example to get His point across!

Much love in Christ