Seeing God in the Darkness
One of the best aspects of camp in Alabama is the singing. Those kids know how to sing! Multiple times I, and others, have tried to record the singing, but the recordings don’t do it justice. Those microphones can pick up the voices, but they cannot record the hearts.
One of the best parts of this camp is late at night. The younger campers go and do an activity and then head to their cabins for some sleep. The older campers go to a place called Hall Hall. In this wooden walled auditorium, those kids start singing. There are no song books. There is no Power Point presentation. There are no chairs. The kids fill the floor, from wall to wall, sitting in large circles, and they sing, from memory. Every song they can think of. It doesn’t matter that there is no leader pumping the air and keeping time. There is typically no pitch pipe blown. These kids just want to sing. And they pour their heart into it.
Sitting there as a counselor, who used to be one of the kids on the floor, it’s moving. Not because of memories (and those are good), nor because of the sound (which is even better), but because it gives me hope. For at least an hour, every night of camp, we turn the lights off, and sing to God in the darkness. No distraction. No social activity. No entertainment. Just pure, focused worship!
This gives me hope because there is a generation of Christians coming up who want to worship God. They want to sing songs that declare His greatness. They want to sing about Him as Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. They want to share their worship with others. They sing about truth, love, grace, and mercy. They are growing up with a desire to worship Him!
There are few places where I have seen God more clearly than in that darkness. It’s overwhelming. It fills the heart and warms the soul. It makes me realize just how much is missing in my own worship, week after week when I gather with the saints. I find myself distracted by the upcoming sermon, prepping my thoughts again, looking around to make sure I say what needs to be said for those who are sitting there listening. I’m distracted by keeping half-an-eye on the kiddos. I’m distracted by looking for guests to make sure I greet them. Many things get in the way of my worship.
Those times in the darkness at camp are frightening because I know how many of those kids are statistically unlikely to remain faithful after their years at home and camp. I’ve watched for years as campers have walked away from the same God they extolled while singing in the darkness. I realize that if they can worship with such heartfelt sincerity and then walk away from that same God just months or weeks later, then so could I. It makes me want to be careful in my daily walk with Christ. He is so worthy of my service and praise, I must continue with Him even when I am facing the temptations of life and dangers of the devil.
Those times I get to sing in the darkness are highlights of my year because in those moments, I feel more connected to my God than at any other moment. You sing until your voice gives out, and then you continue singing with your heart that is just getting started. Singing in Hall Hall reminds me one day I will get to sing for longer than an hour per night, but then it will not be in the darkness. It will be in the light, the pure unending light that comes from my Lord.