Last week I was Camp Pastor in Mouse Ears. Periodically I head out to one of our camps to lead worship and Bible study with people of varying ages. Last week I spent time with campers who are 6-8 years old. I have worked with this age level before, but am always amazed by their faith and enthusiasm.
As we go through the week and move from activity to activity they go with a joy in the new. I think the phrase I hear most often at Primary Camp is ‘What’s next?’ They tend to dash (sometimes literally) through the week, excited for each new thing and for the opportunity to do familiar things in a new environment. Then there are conversations about faith.
Young children seem to have an instinctual understanding of the basics of faith. Ask them about God and they will tell you that God is everywhere, all the time, listening and doing things. For those of us over 5 feet tall that is an omnipresent, eternal, omniscient God. Ask them about Jesus. He loves everyone, wants us to be happy, and died for us. That’s love, grace and forgiveness. The Holy Spirit tells us what to do – Divine inspiration. They don’t know that they’re theologians. They just are.
Camp is not perfect. There are bumps, bruises, and bug bites. There may be a kid who just wants to go home. There may be a kid that doesn’t want to leave. There always seems to be that one kid that only wants to eat Fruit Loops. One of the miracles of camp is that is doesn’t need to be perfect. Sometimes it is precisely the imperfections that make the week meaningful. There is love, laughter, and learning in spite of falling down the hill, forgetting the toothbrush, or having to eat something besides Fruit Loops. Children run headlong at the world even when they know that it is a dangerous place full of things to crash into. They charge at their faith the same way.
I’m not sure when we get too old or too smart to embrace faith enthusiastically, but it’s definitely a shame that we do. We should run with our arms and hearts open, ready for whatever might come. Pick ourselves up when we fall or, even better, let someone else help us up, dust us off, and tell us how to do better the next time. It is a great big world out there and it is waiting for us to share our faith and enthusiasm. Go forth with joy and explore what is waiting!