This past week I had the awesome privilege of being a camp RN at Camp Lurecrest in Lake Lure NC. Since its inception in 1948, this camp has been leading young lives to the eternal message of hope and faith in Jesus Christ. There truly is no place like it. To step foot on the sacred camp grounds is to fall in love. Camp Lurecrest gets in your heart and never leaves.
My week at camp involved serving as an RN to approximately two hundred and fifty 4th through 6th graders. It was sure to be a week of fun and adventure! This was my first experience in such a role, but the ‘mom’ in me knew that there would be some homesick aches and pains that required a nurturing touch….
Enter a beautiful young boy by the name of Zach. All of the campers arrived on a Sunday evening, and Zach came to visit me the following Monday morning. As he walked up my path with his counselor, he did not appear ill at all. But as he came closer and we made eye contact, a floodgate of tears and sobs were unleashed. His body was shaking as he desperately tried to describe to me what he was feeling…’My head hurts…., my stomach hurts….., my chest hurts….., I need to vomit…… and I miss my mom and dad!!!’ The words were all distorted through the sobs and cries of my new friend, but the message of Zach’s heart was clear…. He was homesick.
My heart was aching for Zach. I tried my best to nurture and encourage him, but he only repeatedly told me that ‘I cannot do it.’ He had determined in his heart and mind that he could not make it through the camp experience…that he would NOT make it through the camp experience. He shared with me that he had never been to summer camp before, and that this was not his summer to do it. He finished with a firm demand…’I need to go home today!’
The hardest part was watching Zach struggle through tears, but the staff had a confidence that Zach could overcome his sadness and benefit greatly from being at camp. His tears mattered to us, and we were praying and rooting him on all the way. His parents too were willing to let him endure a bit longer, to see if his heart might turn around. To Zach, it might have seemed that we were being harsh, or that we did not appreciate his pain and longing for home, but nothing could be further from the truth. We all had his very best interest at heart…but would he trust us in that?…..
The scenario reminded me very much of how people, myself included, struggle with the Lord. During painful times, we often feel that God has no understanding of what we can endure, and that He is looking down impatiently waiting on us to move on and get over something. We cry out in defiance that we have had all we can take and we accuse God in our hearts of being harsh. And yet, it is through the crucible of pain that we come out shining with new victory and new hope. If we are honest, the tests of this life produce a mighty testimony that changes our lives, and the lives of other hurting people, if we are willing to share. In all of this, we gain strength and character, and the mighty Lord God receives glory. Is he a harsh God? Absolutely not…He is the ultimate source of goodness and love. Does He ever leave us to fend for ourselves? No, never…He never leaves or forsakes us, and when we seek Him with all of our hearts, He is easily found. He is literally one heartfelt prayer away. And He has a true home in eternity for those who put their trust in the Lord…a home without pain or tears. Now that is a place to feel homesick for!! Put your trust in Him today.
Zach would come to the RN station three more times over the next twenty-four hours to plead his case to go home. We were beginning to lose hope that he would stay, and he seemed to be distancing himself from the very activities that would benefit him the most. Our prayers continued, but our faith was wavering….
But then, the miracles began to happen. While we were expecting Zach to grace our doorstep Tuesday afternoon, he did not show up. He had made a friend and was busy going on various Camp Lurecrest adventures. That night at chapel, I spotted him singing the praise and worship songs while doing all of the hand motions and moves. The smile on his face told the story. No more tears…except for a few of mine! By Wednesday, he was in the spirit of the camp theme- The Highland Games. We spotted him marching to lunch with warrior paint on his face and carrying a coveted walking stick, aka big tree branch. Zach had become a full fledged camper, and it brought great joy to many of us. He had overcome adversity with the Lord’s help, and was reaping the blessings that follow. Zach had gained new strength, and he was experiencing a week that would change his life.
Zach had one more visit to make to our nursing station. He came to see us just before the buses were leaving to take everyone home on Friday morning. He carried with him a box of treasures that he had made during crafts for his mother, father, and grandmother. The pride in his heart was revealed by his enormous smile. He told me some highlights of his week and said that he was ‘definitely coming back next year..’ He then asked me if I would be back as well. There is no place I would rather be.
We all feel homesick from time to time, but if we trust in the Lord, He resides in our hearts and fills our every longing. With each passing day, we are one day closer to our real home. May we trust Him in all things until then…..