Arms Open Wide

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My seventh-grade year at Pine Hills Girls Camp was full of firsts: it was my first exposure to praise and worship, my first time meeting the Be Love Revolution and Pine Hills teams, and my first time being completely surrounded by an empowering collection of women who loved God so boldly, bravely, and completely I swear sometimes I could see the Holy Spirit’s fire coming out of their mouths.

I had the week of a lifetime. I tried to write letters home, but I was so busy and had so much to say that I mailed only one, and came home with four half-finished, three-page long depictions of the other days at camp. When my dad arrived to pick me up, I walked as slowly as I could to the parking lot, but leapt into the car with excitement because I didn’t think I could hold in what I wanted to share for one more minute. I began to spew stories of everything that I had done, seen, and felt in the last six days. I don’t think I finished more than one story, because as soon as I began, a second and third one came into my head and the words tumbled out of my mouth faster than my brain could organize them into coherent sentences.

I was alive and burning with the desire to tell my dad about this God I’d gotten to know for the past week, this Jesus who said He loved me and who was so much more than I’d ever heard of in the forty-minute religion classes I sat through in school. My heart was pounding with a new sense of authority, courage, and love that I had never experienced before. I wanted to share Him with my dad. I HAD to share Him, because my heart was beating out of my ribcage, and I had too much of the excitement and confidence with which I’d seen the women leading me speak. It was filling up my throat and my mind, and I used my hands every time I spoke, because I could feel it in my fingertips, too. My zest for the Lord and His goodness was greater than the worries and the twiddling thumbs of the world I was re-entering. For thirty glorious minutes, nothing could touch me. I was His. He was mine. This was my forever now.

Slowly, I began to quiet down. I was realizing I couldn’t express my joyful, earth-shattering Jesus experiences and days in the real way I had lived them. My dad was nodding, and smiling, and laughing at all the right times -- but he wasn’t responding the way I thought he should be. He wasn’t shouting with excitement, ready to proclaim to everyone on the planet right now that Jesus was Lord, and anyone who didn’t know that had to hear it, because how could someone be alive and not know it? He was what I’d been missing. This was what living was supposed to be. Jesus was the answer.

During that drive, I was more excited about that than my dad was. I cried then, because I realized it would be that way at home, too. It wasn’t their fault, but they hadn’t been there. I would have to try and share it as best I could, but I couldn’t expect those who heard my story to have the same passion and wild joy that I was feeling.

I didn’t want to leave this place that Jesus had so filled with Himself. I didn’t want to lose the bravery, the boldness, and the confidence I’d found there. I wanted to be this excited to talk about Jesus, forever. I wanted Him this close, forever.

As I’m sure you’ve all learned in your own lives, unfortunately, it doesn’t really work like that. I was given my weeks as a camper at Pine Hills Girls’ Camp because the Lord was equipping me with the tools (namely, the excitement, passion, and bravery) I needed to go out and share His Word of love with those in my life. I was twelve years old; I had just had my first taste of Jesus and I had the zeal for sharing Him. Sharing the Lord is not an easy task. But we are not asked to do it alone. He is waiting, arms open wide, to flood us with the grace and vigor we need in order to share Him with those who need Him most. He is waiting, arms open wide, to flood us with the excitement of a first-time Pine Hills camper who is coming home to the world with her heart set on Heaven.