Brat Camp for Christians
©2005, Lani Wiens
a fresh flowers original
I watched a show on television this week that intrigued me. It was a reality TV show of a different nature. They took nine adolescents with varying problems such as; compulsive lying, drug abuse, violence, destructive behaviour and the like and put them in a wilderness camp setting with guides and mentors to help them get a handle of life and give them an opportunity to make changes. I saw the last two episodes of the show and was encouraged and amazed by what these kids accomplished. They were given many challenges that tested them to their limits. One of the things their mentors were looking for was the courage to work on the issues that they had been facing at home. It was really interesting to watch the light in their eyes and the edges of their faces as they faced their challenges and conquered their fears. It was beautiful.
There was one girl that they were very concerned about. She said the right things, did the right stuff but her heart and demeanour weren’t changing and it was obvioust. The guides and mentors were very concerned that she really hadn’t done the work she needed to in order to make the changes necessary. The last few minutes of the show was six months after their wilderness experience. For the majority of the kids the changes were lasting, they were working hard to keep the life they had been given out in the wilderness. Their futures were bright, their faces soft, their eyes aglow. Most were very thankful for their experience even though they were glad it was over. Except that one girl. She didn’t feel like she’d changed at all. Her parents were very discouraged and didn’t know what the future would hold for their daughter, they considered her experience in the wilderness a failure. Her hard lines never disappeared and the light in her eyes did not grow brighter.
God takes us and puts us into wilderness experiences all the time. The big difference is that you don’t have to be a delinquent to get that treatment, we’re all in for it at one time or another and probably more than once. His purpose is the same, to show us what’s in our hearts, to build character and to help us deal with issues that we have. The end result is supposed to be that we choose a better path as we come out of the wilderness having learned the lessons well. This young girl’s experience in the wilderness was a wake up call to me. She experienced the same things all the other kids did, took the same tests, was given the same opportunities to look at herself. She didn’t take the opportunity. She hardened her heart, she whined and complained more than any of the other kids, she refused to change and the result was that she didn’t reap the benefits.
My flowers to you today are to embrace what God is doing in your life right now. You may hate it because it’s cold, uncomfortable, it hurts and you’re not crazy about your travelling buddies. The fact is that as we embrace and grab hold of the opportunity before us our life will be changed forever, for the better. If we don’t give in to the whining and complaining, if we don’t harden our hearts, we will come out shining on the other side. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that there is another side, the landscape and the experience seems like it is going to go on forever (that’s where I am). But it won’t, there is an ending point to any trial. The last day of the wilderness experience came very unexpectedly for the participants at Brat Camp, they thought they were heading into another challenge – a hike through extremely cold and deteriorating weather. The guide took them one at a time and told them their next challenge before they started the hike was just over the hill. Bravely, one by one, they walked over the horizon willing to take on whatever scheme had been cooked up for them that day. But they were in for a surprise, on the other side of the hill were their families, waiting to embrace them, the journey was over. It was a very emotional time. But if they had refused the challenge, been unwilling to go where their guides had sent them, they wouldn’t have been going home.
There’s a song that we have been listening to that has helped us in our wilderness, part of it goes like this;
Just over the horizon
Passed the mountains of uncertainty
There is a better world awaiting me
Another bit goes:
…the danger will come if you wait……you’ve got to start walking in faith….
(from 4 Him – Face the Nation, Over the Horizon)
That’s the message today friends, just over the horizon this journey is over, the reward is just on the other side of the next hill. We’ll experience many a challenge in the wilderness of this life, they are meant to make us better. Hang in there, take the challenge the Lord is setting before you today, maybe it’s the one that leads you to the end of the journey. See ya on the other side…….