Reflections of a Middle School Camp Pastor, Day 4

I brought my bright blue pair of Nike running shoes to camp this year. For some reason, outlandishness makes you seem…okay to them! If I wore a bright orange tee shirt that said “I’ll shave my head for a quarter”, I’d probably feel normal. For some reason at camp craziness kind of has you going with the flow. It also makes you an acceptable person to talk about questions of faith, and doubts about God. A conversation I had with one of the campers today followed along those lines. She saw my shoes and let me into the inner circle of sitting at her lunch table…and then she said, “Would another one of the counselors tell their story tonight? I really liked it when Andy shared his story at campfire last night, and also when Julia shared hers the night before. It was good!” I nodded, and then I asked her, “Do you have a story to share?” “No. I don’t really feel that God is close to me.” I pursued it a little bit, without any “theologizing”, or “here’s what’s wrong with you.” “When I’m having a problem, or feeling lonely and I pray to him I just don’t feel that he hears me. It never seems to help.” I nodded again and encouraged her to say more. “I just don’t pray much anymore, because I don’t know if God really cares. It just feels like he’s always so far away.” And then she looked at me and said, “Okay! Staring contest. First one to smile or look away loses.” Yes, I know, that’s pretty random, but that’s how it is with middle school students quite often. A glimpse of their thoughts about God, and then to a staring contest. The young lady, like many others here, are at a time in their life when a relationship with God, or lack of a relationship with God, is often described in “feeling terms.” They may have had all the Sunday School answers, and know Biblical facts. And now they are in a transitioning phase when their emotions are going bonkers. She hasn’t sensed God wrapping his arms around her so does God really care? It’s a pivotal point in faith development. Can I doubt God and not be struck by lightning. Well quite frankly, the disciples of Jesus did. Tucked neatly right after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and before his great commission at the end of Matthew, there is a verse that says when the disciples “…saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17) If doubting and asking the why questions is something the disciples of Jesus dealt with, I think it’s a safe bet that a middle school student will deal with it. The question…another one…is whether or not the adults are willing to let the doubts be expressed and grappled with?

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Freedom, Grace, Humor, Parenting, Prayer, Story, Youth

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