This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend another GMBA campout. Camp is the one week I look forward to every year, and it is the one week I assume I will be getting no sleep! The theme this year was “in.” We spent the week discussing what it meant to build in Him, to be all in, to be in the fold, and to be confident in Him.
On the first day of seminars, the leaders posed a question to my group, the 20 to 25 year olds. They asked us, “If you were to die tomorrow, do you think you’d be in?” Since it was the first day of class, we hadn’t really dove into the topic of being in, but we all gathered they meant if you died, would you go to Heaven. I squirmed a little bit in my seat, the question making me uncomfortable as we sat and waited to see how people would answer.
The leaders told us to close our eyes and to stand if we thought we were in. In a group of over 50 young people, when we opened our eyes, maybe six of us were standing. My heart broke. Why did so many of us think we wouldn’t be in? Most of us were baptized. Most of us had been born and raised in the church and knew about salvation. What was holding us back?
The seminar leaders brought out a large pad of paper, threw some markers on the ground, and we had the chance to write down the reasons why we thought we wouldn’t be in. Some people wrote that they didn’t set aside enough time for God or weren’t active enough in their spiritual lives or didn’t read the scriptures as much as they should. Some people wrote that they battled with lust, self-doubt, anger. Some people felt they were unworthy of being in.
I couldn’t help but think we were being too hard on ourselves. The one thing we all forgot in that moment was the power of God’s grace. Yes, we weren’t perfect people. Yes, we had sin in our lives that we needed to be cleansed of. None of us were worthy of the gift of salvation. None of us deserved His grace. The beautiful thing about God’s love is that the grace He shows us surpasses all of our faults.
One of my biggest shortcomings is I fail to view myself the way God sees me. More often than not, I find myself in failure and automatically think I’m unworthy and undeserving. I forget that even in my darkest times and greatest pitfalls, God still views me as His child and has more love for me than I can even imagine. I’m not deserving of His love, His grace, but no matter how unworthy and undeserving I am, He will still give His love and grace to me.
I’ve been to a lot of camps and sat through a lot of seminars. Brother David Lovalvo, one of my group’s leaders, told us that this camp theme was maybe the most important theme we’d ever have. I didn’t know why he said that at the time, but looking back at the week, now I can see what he meant.
Before camp, I felt like I needed to be perfect and needed to strive to achieve this unattainable life in order to be “in.” After camp, I realized that idea was more like a defense mechanism, holding me back from taking risks and experiencing joy. I’m never going to be perfect or live a perfect life. But, I can spend every day until I die growing in God’s love, mercy, and grace, living the best life I can live. Am I going to fall short? Yes. Will I have to ask for foregiveness? Yes. But, I believe, no matter what, I’ll be in.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.