Youth Camp 95

The Aftermath

July 16, 1995

(As I haven't spoken with the kids about being on this page, I've taken the liberty of renaming them...)

Yesterday the youth went tubing. Far more adults showed up than I expected. No arguments. No fighting. Just a boatload of fun. After we went through the chutes a while, we floated down the river. Besides the horseplay and such, a bunch of the kids started singing praise songs. You should have seen the expressions on some of the drunks floating nearby!

This morning Dennis asked Jane to open the service with a prayer. We ended up with more testimony time than sermon time later! The youth (of course) led the way in praise & worship again. Maybe 20 kids, and they were as loud as the praise team (who have the benefit of a PA system). A brief prayer interlude in the middle of the service went on for about 20 minutes.

Before camp, Jason (whose van I drove to camp) and I both heard from the Lord about some kids who weren't going to camp who needed to. I knew of 2 - he saw them & one more. He spoke to them; I only got to speak to one (Jane, who was wavering, and decided as soon as Jason spoke to her). Don't know what happened with Chris, but Jeanne, as far as we can tell, just decided it sounded uncool, and even though she wavered a bit, she decided not to go.

If you've been paying attention so far, you know that Renee was one of the people who got the most out of camp (in our youth group, anyway). Jeanne was still Miss Aloof & Cool the first two Sundays after camp, but today came in like a wounded animal. Her best friend (also named Jeanne), whose dad abandoned her at age 6, has now been abandoned by her mom as well. She's devastated, as is the Jeanne at RRC. Jeanne has, at this point, only the most tenuous relationship with Someone strong enough & wise enough to help her help her friend, and no real reserves to draw on. She was a different girl this morning. Some of the other girls are going to be her strength, and love her and her friend, and try to help her get to where she needs to be.

As I have said, the thing the Lord kept telling me through camp was "No excuses. No more excuses." I've wanted for a long time to regain my love for Him to the point I really, really listened to Him about everything, paid attention to His counsel, and walked the path he showed me. Well, that prayer is being answered.

This is hard to explain without cliches, and without sounding trite. But He's showing me so many areas where I haven't been paying attention, where I haven't been doing what I know to do. Kind of like my son, who almost never throws his dirty clothes on the floor, gets sent to clean up his room, and doesn't touch the dirty clothes. From my driving habits (not too loving or forgiving) to my relationships with my co-workers, to my attitude towards some of the more obviously less-than-perfect people at church (as if I have any reason to think I'm better than them!) and on and on.

So I realized at camp I need to re-evaluate how I deal with some of the people at work. One guy in particular can be very difficult to deal with, and I haven't been very loving. At all. So I start praying for him (let's call him Fred). And this past week he's suddenly not nearly as arrogant or rough, and actually vulnerable. He ends up working closely with another Christian, too. On Friday he asks me to go to lunch. I've already decided to run errands at lunch; so I open my mouth to say I can't, and hear, "Sure. Where to?"

On the way, God very clearly starts telling me some things to say to Fred, some things to ask. Now this guy never talks about God except to swear, as far as I know. He's never shown any interest in talking about God whenever it's come up. He thinks of serious Christians as potential David Koreshes or televangelists or something else he doesn't think much of. But it's clearly God, and God makes it clear it's urgent, so I start talking.

And Fred responds openly and honestly. At lunch we end up being joined by someone we hadn't expected to see there, who isn't very conducive to serious conversation about deep, personal things. But on the way back we talk a little more, and I realize again just how awesome God is. God has been putting Fred in a place where he is finally ready to listen.

Here's something I've written up for someone at church who's been in the thick of all this. No names appear to protect this person, their company, and the people they work with.

``Monday I got handed an ultimatum at work, which made no sense to me. I was given what I considered an insane choice. My wife (the first person I normally turn to for prayer and counsel) is out of town. I've just decided to start trying to make a difference at work. Either choice will have an exremely negative impact on someone close to me who doesn't deserve it, as well as on me. I'm told several people have complained about something they have no way of knowing enough about to complain if there were anything to complain about (which there isn't). I am told the whole thing is based on something which makes no sense.

``At first I get pretty freaked out. But as I pray, I feel God is telling me it's really about something else, anyway. (I also suspect that, given the absurd number of coincidences, it's actually not even really about any of this, but a spiritual attack.) I go to my VP with my suspicions as to what the company is really after. He investigates, and it's true. I probe further, and find out the allegations mentioned were not what I was told, and the people were manipulated into making them. So I'm being set up, and being lied to, so what do I do? Now I'm really angry. But as I pray and get a few others to pray, the anger is replaced by... peace???

``I have to give the VP a decision by Thursday. That morning on the way to work, the Lord clearly tells me to just stand back and watch Him take care of things. I ask for a hint. He asks me where is my alleged faith? Oops. I decide to shut up and trust Him. We laugh and talk, and I get on to work.

``The VP isn't in. Isn't in. I decide to send him email with what I've been thinking about. Oh, yeah - I'm supposed to wait. OK. And just then, I suddenly see a whole new path - turning a confrontation, a no-win situation - into something else altogether. I write it up. There isn't a problem to be solved - there's a good reason to continue both things instead of choosing between them. I explain the benefits, can show tangible evidence, and sum it up on a positive note. Looking at it later, it sounds scarily like a proposal some of our sales techs would write, and something I usually stay away from. When I see the VP later, he's back to his old self (as opposed to having drawn back), friendly again, and he has to talk with someone else who's out til Monday, but he sounds hopeful, whereas Monday he sounded resigned to a fight.''

When they know the rest of the story, I'll post it here.

Last night in bed I was praying about my job situation. Between Pencom and the company I help run on the side, things are getting kind of hairy, and I'm determined not to lose family time, youth time, or other commitments. Kinda tricky, huh? So I ask God what I should do.

``Give up both jobs. Quit.''

Now I'm the only income provider in the family, so this gets my attention really fast. ``Say WHAT?''

``You need to quit trying to do things your way. You need to give both jobs to me - completely. Drop them on the altar and trust me to take care of things.''

Even a day or two before I would have argued that I was, but now I just said OK.

This morning I get to church early for praise team rehersal (I run sound). Praying before church, I realize the time is now. I clearly visualize myself laying a stack of papers - my mental representation of the contract, demands, benefits, promises, job description, reviews, and everything else, on a crude, outdoor altar. They instantly catch fire. I have to hunt around to find the other job, but soon it's burning, too. Both of them are a bit difficult to put down, and both fight against being burned. A realization hits. I begin laying down other ``jobs'' - youth leader. Soundman. Home group leader. Husband. Father. None of these burn. I back away from the alter.

The biggest, longest-duration bolt of lightning I have ever seen cleaves the desert daylight, and a cloud of dust and steam flies up around the altar, forms a mushroom cloud. I expect when the smoke clears there will be a crater, but instead the stone altar sits intact, a brilliant, gold chalice in the middle. It contains a huge drop of Christ's blood. I drink the cup - communion. His presence visits a while, and I am back at ths sound board.

Somehow I'm not too worried about a lot of things, anymore.

So what about life after Youth Camp?

Last updated: 03 August 2003

Copyright 1995 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

Miles O'Neal <> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514