We were hyper, we were excited, we were loud. We anticipated what God would do in our lives. For winter camp we stayed 2 1/2 days, and for summer camp we stayed 5 days.
I will never forget, though, the contrast between our attitudes on the way up the mountain versus the way down the mountain, heading back home. Our hearts were heavy, we were tired, we were thankful for all that God did, but most of us did not want to go home. We wanted to stay on the mountain, to worship with all of our hearts, to have fun with our friends, leaving our worries and cares behind. Heading down the mountain reminded us all that we were going back to real life, heading back to families with "issues," homework to deal with, jobs, and so much more.
Camp was our vacation, our refuge, our getaway - and for a 15 year old, it was the most exiting thing to happen all year. Yet those trips back home were quiet - eerily quiet - with many people sleeping from exhaustion, and others quietly wiping away tears because they did not want to go back.
With Easter being just 4 days ago, today I was reminded of these feelings. There is such a build-up for Easter - the excitement, the preparation, the church services, the clothes, the pictures, the Easter egg hunts, the family get togethers, and for many of us, Spring Break! It can all be very exciting. But then we have to get back to real-life, and it is hard. As we made the long trip home today from our exciting week, that sadness washed over me, just like when I was riding the bus home from camp when I was 15 years old.
I didn't want to go back to real-life....to the bills, the cleaning, work, homework, school schedules. I wanted to stay on vacation. I also wanted to stay focused on the Resurrection, the happiness, the excitement of everything Christ did for us. It's easy to stay focused on those things when everyone is about it, when Easter Sunday is coming, when the fridge is stocked full of yummy food, and everywhere you turn you are reminded of what this season is all about. But then, Monday comes, and it feels like all the excitement is over. What then?
I wonder if this is how the disciples felt, too. Jesus rose from the dead, 3 days after He died, just like He said He would! But then...He ascended to heaven, and they were left behind, trying to grasp everything that had just happened. It was probably eerily quiet. Yes, He had just given them the Holy Spirit, so they had a new empowerment and boldness to go tell others about Him. But wow, there was sure a lot to process. I'm sure there was sadness, a kindof "let down" if you will, that it seemed...over. What now?
On the way home today, as I pondered all of these things, I was reminded to find things to be thankful for. Even though I was struggling with coming back home to the laundry, the taxes, and dinner to be made, a small voice spoke to my heart and said, "Find 10 things to be thankful for right now." So I started thinking of things in my mind to be thankful for - that home that I didn't want to go back to because it represented real-life - "God, I thank you for my home, for the front and back yards that my kids can run around in. I thank you for the food in my fridge that will feed my family tonight. I thank you for a heater to keep us warm in this storm. I thank you for our kitty who will greet us when we return." (It's the little things, right?) The one place I didn't want to go back to is exactly what I needed to thank God for.
I think that is one way to keep going. To get over "the hump" of Monday / the long ride home / the let-down after a big event / the loneliness after all the friends have gone home. We'll all experience it at one time or another. God has not gone anywhere; He remains the same. Wherever it is that we don't want to go back to, because it represents stress, things to do, or a person you don't want to see, that is exactly what we need to thank Him for. Jesus was trying to teach His followers that His presence was just as strong after He left as when He was physically in their midst. He wants us to learn that same lesson - His presence is just as strong wherever it is hardest to be, as where we feel Him the most.