That is what last week was to me. We had breakfast at dinner-time and dinner at breakfast time. We ate desserts first and main course after. We walked in lines backwards and turned the daily schedule on it’s head. Why? To illustrate that Jesus wants us to live ‘backwards’ and ‘upside-down’ to the way the world teaches us to live. As far as Sr. High weeks at camp go, it was one of the most effective I have been a part of in quite some time.
Rewind about a week. I didn’t want to go to camp. My schedule was packed, and I had moved out of the area this camp served two years ago. But as a favor to a good friend, I agreed to help out. When I pulled into camp on Sunday night I found my self wishing I had turned my friend down. There was not an air-conditioned building in sight. It was hot, humid and buggy. The mosquitoes in Delaware are so thick you can see them in clouds, and the horseflies double as F-16s when they are not busy terrorizing the foolish camper who left his bug repellant at home. And the sand. Because of the camp’s proximity to the beach, sand is everywhere. It’s in the dorms. It’s in the showers. It’s in the beds. It’s in your cereal. Grit and grime become routine at this Christian camp tucked away in middle-of-nowhere, Delaware. I found myself sorely tempted to look up the number to the local Holiday Inn. But I am a man of my word, so I stayed, and I’m glad I did.
God specializes at using the mundane to do the extraordinary. In His book shepherds kill giants and crucified carpenters save humanity. So I should not be surprised that at a small, remote and run down camp God decided to show up and make His presence known. The week was filled with incredible moments. Baptisms stirred the pool on three different nights. Tears of repentance, mourning, and healing were shed throughout the week, as old lives were left behind for new ones. Then came Thursday night.
The theme was to lead you must serve, and to illustrate it the dean brought out a tub of water and washcloths. Kids partnered up and began to wash each others feet. At first there were nervous smiles and anxious laughter. But as the worship leader began playing old hymns on the piano, the voices of dozens of teens began to fill the pavilion. Immediately, I could sense that the Holy Spirit was moving as the teens began to seek out the adult volunteers to wash their feet. I hung out in the back. I don’t like anyone touching my feet due to being extremely ticklish. That, and there was something inside of me that said I didn’t deserve such an honor. However, eventually a young woman found me and insisted that she wash my feet. I protested, but she would not relent. All she said was, ‘If you are to serve others, you must be served.’
I didn’t realize just how much cleansing I needed. Fifteen years of carrying the burdens and heartaches of others washed away as the water poured over my feet. Wounds received in serving God’s army began to heal as I felt the washcloth scrubbing away the grime from my soles. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was trying not to laugh at the tickling sensation, I would have been weeping like a baby. In that moment, I was restored. In that moment God renewed my strength. After the ceremony I was emotionally spent, but I was spiritually invigorated.
As I drove away from camp the next day, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss. I was leaving a place that had become holy that week because it was visited by the Holy Spirit of God. There was part of me that wished that I could stay there forever. But just as certain as it was God who restored me, it was God telling me now it was time for me to serve others. Now is my time to be a servant with a basin and rags. Now is my time to take the message of Christ to others, and to help them bear their burdens and wash their wounds. Now is my time.
Now is also your time. Go. Serve. Wash some feet.