That One Time At Church Camp

26 “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of His great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”

Isaiah 40:26

There is almost nothing I love more than sitting outside on a clear night star gazing. For one, it costs no money–college probs–but second, it’s where I feel closest to God. When I look up into the heavens nothing else matters. All my struggles, fears, and insecurities just melt away and it’s just Him and I. In fact, I’d like to tell y’all a story about my first real encounter with Jesus. And surprise! It all started on a starry night.

To give a bit of a back-story I was painstakingly shy as a child. I’m talking hiding behind my mom even at the age of ten. It was bad. And as you could probably guess, being that shy, friends weren’t the easiest to come by.

My parents were very involved with my childhood church and as such I got special privileges, like going places kids weren’t supposed to go, which again only hindered my “blooming” social skills.

In an effort to break me out of my shell a bit my parents signed me up for church camp. Let’s just say I wasn’t the happiest camper, but a few reluctantly packed bags later and I was on my way.

To clear up a few details I did have friends that were going on this trip too, problem was they were much more outgoing than I which led me to wander off by myself quite frequently. This camp did not cure by shyness by a long shot much to my parents defeat. That miracle would come a few years later.

Now, after our nightly worship service and before bedtime we were allowed about an hour or so of free time which basically translated into a major social anxiety attack for shy ten-year-old me. About half way through the week I had wandered off, as usual, but this time I found myself sitting on a bench looking up into a beautiful starry sky. I can still remember the way it looked.

I’m not sure why I even went to this place because it meant walking through the game room which was always packed with people. Whatever the reason I’m grateful I found that lone bench because God touched my heart that night.

As a kid, I always believed in God, but I’d never had a personal experience before; I felt like God surrounded me, but never saw me. I knew I was a shy child so that reason made sense to me. I felt like I was too shy for God to notice me or that I’d somehow evaded God by my awesome sneaking powers.

Even when I was trying to make myself invisible God saw me. He didn’t speak to me directly, but under that starry sky I felt the presence of God. He was there with me as I sat alone on that bench, trying desperately to avoid everyone. While I thought I was running away, I was really just running to Him.

That night something changed for me. It didn’t magically cure all my aliments and/or social insecurities, but it gave me something to hold onto. Ever since that day I know that God is with me, even when I feel completely invisible. I will always have the stars watching over me, reminding me I’m not alone.

God is like my best friend now, I tell Him all my secrets and He is there for me when no one else will show up. I don’t have to doubt His loyalty or sincerity. It’s real and authentic, albeit sometimes a little messy on my part, but it’s there nonetheless.

God broke through my shell that night and reached me like kids my own age couldn’t and for the first time in my life I felt truly understood. My shyness always felt like a problem that needed fixing, but God showed me that even through my shyness He sees me and accepts me.

Since then I’ve grown up a little and I’m not nearly as shy as I once was. I don’t hide behind my mom every time someone tries to talk to me now. Winner winner!

I’m still not the biggest fan of crowds and often find myself wandering off to a quiet place just as I did on that clear, starry night so many years ago.

How has God reached you? I’d love to hear your story!