Camp is the best place in the world to people watch. Last week, my daughter and I went on a long hike around Falls Creek youth camp in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma. We spend most of each summer at Falls Creek and have experienced it from all sides, so we welcome any opportunity to see camp in a fresh way through the eyes of others. We walked everywhere, the bookstore, the West End coffee shop, the Prayer Garden, and finally, Boulder Springs.
By the time we reached Boulder Springs, it was literally crawling with elementary aged girls. Sugar-buzzed from concession stand treats and goofy from lack of sleep, they picked their way across the rocks, holding spindly little arms out for balance. Some made it all the way to the fresh spring quickly without slipping into stagnant water and cheered for themselves on the other side, wide-eyed and giddy with adrenaline. Others chose to take their time, leaning on each other for support and pointing out minnows and water bugs to one another along the way. Exhausted from swimming in the lake, others simply stood dazed on the bank and waited for their friends, letting the afternoon sun dry and stiffen the swimsuits they still wore. Thoroughly entertained, Hope and I settled onto one of the rocks and soaked our feet in the clearest pool at the base of the fresh spring waterfall.
“Don’t do that! You’ll swallow him!” a squeaky little voice called from above.
“I will not! I know how to be careful,” a voice answered defensively.
At the source of the spring, two little girls squatted, their hair hanging in ringlets around their faces. Squeaky was blonde and frail-looking, her friend, a sturdier brunette with purple snow-cone stains on her soft cheeks. The brunette was peering intently into a Styrofoam cup, which she held just out of Squeaky’s reach.
“But, it’s dirty waterrrrrr!” Squeaky pleaded, reaching for the cup.
“It is not,” Snow Cone answered with confidence. “It’s from the spring. They said you can drink from the spring. It’s clean. Besides, the tadpole water is way down at the bottom.”
“You’ll get sick,” Squeaky whined.
Snow Cone ignored her friend’s warning, tipping the cup up cautiously to take a drink, her eyes wide with concentration. A split second later, she lowered it quickly. Apparently, the tadpole had gotten closer than she had anticipated. Undaunted, she gave the cup a swirl and tipped it up again. Squeaky covered her face and whimpered.
After a few close calls, Snow Cone gave up. “I don’t want him to die yet,” she announced. I wondered when she did want the tadpole to die. Squeaky looked relieved, and the two made their way back across the rocks with their squirmy little captive.
Most people want to experience the Living Water that Jesus talks about in the Bible. Thirsty, they know that He can fill and satisfy them. The problem is, they want to keep their tadpoles, too, and it just doesn’t work like that.
You can’t experience the profound peace and power of God in your life as long as you are holding on to pet sins. While that seems to go without saying, I’m not talking about big, obvious sins like theft, murder, adultery, etc., things that are generally frowned upon by moral society. I’m talking about the things that we tend to overlook and accept in ourselves and others, sins easily caught and kept in the Styrofoam cup of our hearts, so to speak. While we find it easy to tolerate, even foster things like jealousy, pride, gossip, and sloth, the Lord calls them detestable.
So, if you find yourself struggling to find or regain the kind of intimacy with God that others talk about or you once had, maybe it’s time to show the Father what’s in your heart and let him clean it out and fill it for you. Don’t be shy. Believe me, you won’t be the first one to bring Him something dirty.