As I sit here at summer camp in my bathing suit getting ready to head over to the dunk tank, because one of the games involves directors and counselors getting dunked, I reflect on how full my heart is when I am at summer camp. Sure it is exhausting. You hardly get any sleep. But it is also one of the highlights of student ministry for me every year. I really LOVE summer camp!
I am a product of summer camp. If my parents hadn’t dragged me to summer camp I have no idea if I would be sitting here as a pastor to students today. It literally changed my life. It was at summer camp that I finally decided to turn my life over to God and accept Jesus as my leader and forgiver. It was at summer camp that I accepted the call God had for me to be a pastor. There is something about getting away from all the distractions that help teens to be able to focus and hear God’s loving whisper speak to them.
It is here as I sit at summer camp that I realize how grateful I am for the man God placed in my life when I was a teenager, who was my youth pastor, mentor, and dear friend. Dan Nagele invested so much into my life when I was a teen and showed me how much God loved me even though I was not the most lovable. I am so grateful for the years as I was a young adult that he poured his life into me. We had some great times together serving together at summer camps where he really taught me how to be a Christ-follower and a pastor. There are so many memories over countless years at summer camp that I could go on and on forever.
These past two weeks the memories of those years at summer camp with Dan have caused me to reflect on how important it is to invest in the lives of people. Here in America, we place much more emphasis on investing for our retirement that I think we miss out on the investment we need to place on people. Dan is reaping a harvest of untold numbers of lives, because of the investment he made in my life. The lives I have had the opportunity to touch are lives that he has touched through the investment he made in me. That is a reward that is literally out of this world.
This week our theme has been “Story”. The first night we talked about the preface to our stories and while the preface can influence our story we need to realize it is not our story. Last night we talked about how the chapters of our story are being written and that God wants us to be the hero or heroine of the story. Tonight we will be talking about how ultimately we need to let God be the author of our stories and so we need to surrender the pen to Him. God wants to let us keep our books, but He wants to the pen so he can write an epic journey for us. Tomorrow evening I will be giving a talk the last night of camp that will center around the bibliography and how we need to look at the sources that we are allowing to influence our stories. Not only that but we need to look at how we are influencing other people’s stories.
My hope and prayer are that these junior high students this week will walk away deciding that they want their stories to be an epic journey. That they will choose the right kind of people to influence their stories and that they will do what they can to influence other people’s stories in a positive way. I am so grateful that I can cite Dan Nagele in the bibliography to my story. Thank you, Dan!