As we finish the last week of summer vacation, my heart goes out to all the students who will soon find themselves sitting behind desks, running in gyms, and filling their minds with all kinds of wisdom. Although I enjoyed school in the later part of high school, I lived for the summers. One of the greatest things about summer for me was camp.
I remember my vacation very fondly. My parents always made it possible for my brothers and I to go to day camps as well as overnight camps. Once I was old enough, I found myself volunteering at the camps I loved to go to as a kid. It was a great time being in beautiful and challenging settings, and it was always a highlight for me in my spiritual life.
Most of the camps I went to were Bible/Christian camps. It was these camps where I met wonderful people who had walked with Jesus and were eager to share about their faith. We had times of worship and Bible study everyday. We had special guests who would talk to us, cabin devotionals, and personal quite times.
It was at camp that I felt closest to God. I felt like I grew so much in my faith and I was confident in what I believed in. Many people referred to this feeling as a “spiritual high.” But the problem was that at the end of every summer, I would have go back home.
Now home is no horrible place. I was part of a wonderful church. I have wonderful family and friends. I was loved and had the opportunity to love back. But I soon found that even at home, I was waiting for the next spiritual high experience to feel like God and faith were real. These moments came at conferences, retreats, plays, and basically anywhere where they had an altar call where I could bask in my problems and then re-commit my life to Christ. I can’t even count how many times I came up to the front or said the sinners prayer, always hoping that this time it would feel real and stop me from being foolish when I went home and was alone in front of the computer.
Very soon I started to feel like two different people. In one setting I was the ultra-Christian, on fire for God and excited about faith. But then in my ordinary setting, I was the guy who wanted so hard to live for Jesus but just never knew how God fit into it all. I’m sure if people who knew me from one setting would see me in the other, they would think I was a different person.
It took me a while to realize that if God can only be experienced in the exciting, enthusiastic, concert-style, this-is-the-moment-to-change-your-whole-life kind of times, then there’s a problem. If our whole life is that high, then the high becomes ordinary. And if the high becomes ordinary, then we look for an even more exciting high in order to feel that way again. It’s a horrible comparison, but the effects of substance abuse could be likened to this feeling.
I craved, and am still craving to meet God in the everyday, in the ordinary. Yes, God was with the Israelites when they went through the Red Sea, but was He not also with them through 40 years in the desert? Sure, God was with David when he slew Goliath, but what about all the years when David was King, listening to quarrels among his people? Jesus spent 3 years with His disciples. Not all of it was walking-on-water kind of moments.
I soon began to realize, after being dissatisfied with the chase after spiritual highs, that it’s not God who has to change, but me. In my anticipation for the extravagant, I neglected to look for God in the ordinary. It’s not that God isn’t able to be found in the routine and mundane, I was simply not expecting to find Him there.
But God is omnipresent, ever with us. In fact, God makes His dwelling in those who welcome Him into their lives (John 15:5, Colossians 1:27, Revelation 3:20). There is nowhere we can go or hide to get away from God. He invites us into relationship and infuses every aspect of our lives. Sometimes it’s even in the simple, quite times where we find God at work, making His presence known to us. When we find ourselves in relationship with God, the ordinary can become spiritual.
I’ve discovered over the past years that the same God who I meet in the exciting, high points of life, is the same God who journeys with me every day. I don’t need to go out of my way to feel a certain feeling or be in a certain setting. God resides here and now.
There’s a song we sing at our church that has become one of my favourites lately. Be My Guide by Brian Thiessen speaks of the guiding nature of God in our every day lives. The song begins with:
“Be my guide, God of Abraham
Lead me by Your hand
You are strong and wise
I want to trust in You and in all I do
Bring You honour and praise”
The same God who guided Abraham over 4,000 years ago is the same God who guides us today. He walks with us and is not intimidated by what our lives look like. It’s not our job to try to make our way to God or to find Him. He chose to come and be with us. Our job is to trust in Him, allowing Him into our daily lives, affairs and decisions. Our job is to give all parts of our lives, the exciting and the boring, over to God, trusting that He will use it for His glory.