So back to my month on Summer Staff. I mentioned a friend coming out of nowhere and a voice telling me to do something unconventional PARTLY for the sake of a Star Wars pun, but also because it’s true. A lot of things happened at camp that totally blew my world to bits. Little Death Star bits.
I get to camp and, at least at Younglife camps, they typically have a session devotional for everyone serving on Summer Staff, Work Crew, and what not. The Bible verses were all from Paul’s epistles and his vision for how believers worked and lived together, so of course there was a huge theme of unity throughout. One of the girls on staff was a Catholic, as I found out sooner than later, and in light of our devotions on unity I had to accept her as a Christian because there was no doubt in mind that she desired to be like Christ to others and that she had a very personal relationship with him.
I think the tipping point that got the ball rolling was a late night discussion some of us staffers were having about being raised in the church. At one point, it got to bashing liturgy and the high church denominations that had more “ritual” or rigidity. And I surprised myself by speaking up and defending liturgy. I remember saying that at least they were careful and intentional with what they preached and professed, while definitely still posing a danger of taking it all for granted. Dang, I attended a megachurch at that time and I stood up for the high church, really?!
Next, my introversion kicked in. I know. God uses literally anything. Being a DJ at Younglife camp and being an introvert gets a little crazy after awhile. I remember it was about the second week and it was the easy day for us working A/V and all that. I literally didn’t have to be anywhere until 1pm. But I woke up at 6:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I felt God calling me to come hang out with Him in the club room (the big room where the kids gather for like the night talk and everything.) It was empty all day and so I turned on some choral music (I did choir up through high school) and turned the lights down quite a bit and just sat…and then kneeled…and then ended up prostrate overwhelmed in my fear of Him. He has never been more revealed to me as awesome Creator, ultimate Judge, and sovereign King than in those few hours I spent surrounded by the stillness, the darkness, and the harmonious reverberations of his praise.
In the deep peace of those moments, I was interrupted twice. Both times a good friend walked in and said, “Ahh this is creepy!” One snapped the lights on, one just simply walked out.
No, this is beautiful; this is reverence; this is peace. Over the course of the rest of camp it became evident that this high-paced, revival, hype energy was idealized and was the bar for fitting in and what it meant to be on fire for God. I, on the other hand, see nothing wrong with silence and the reflective spirituality that I got to experience that day. The negative reactions of my friends to my makeshift sanctuary had a reverse effect on me and made me appreciate solemn reverence even more.
On that same day, led by the Holy Spirit, I thought might go check the Younglife bookstore for any book relating to Catholicism in any way. THE YOUNGLIFE BOOKSTORE!! For those of you unfamiliar with Younglife, it’s a parachurch organization whose mission is to introduce kids to a relationship with Christ. So it’s not necessarily anti-Catholic, but the camp atmosphere is definitely more welcoming of an Evangelical or Pentecostal approach to ministry and conversion. Only a crazy person would go in to that bookstore expecting to find something relating to Catholicism amongst books like Love Does, The Message, and Younglife’s version of the Gideon Bible: The Journey.
This why I say the Holy Spirit led me. For those of you who know me, you know that I am extremely cautious to presume to know the actions of the Holy Spirit, but there is no doubt in my mind that this was the Spirit’s work. On the shelf was a youth Catholic bible. A Catholic bible. I, of course, picked it up and bought it on the spot. It was the last and only one they had in stock and had put it on the shelf that morning. Dang……..
I sought out that Catholic girl and grilled her with questions only revealing how ignorant I was about sacraments, salvation, and reverence. I think the only thing I corrected her on was that C.S. Lewis wasn’t Catholic. And dang, if she thought that, how divergent could our views be? Multiple times, I think, we pushed the curfew hour talking about it. (Dear Summer Staff Coordinator, I’m sorry. I was just trying to find the truth.)
I had ingrained in my head the phrase we all hear, “Some Catholics are Christians.” Or differentiating things by saying this is “Christian” and this is “Catholic” as if they were something entirely different. She flipped it on me, “Some Protestants are Christians.” Yep, true that. If being involved in Younglife has taught me anything it’s Matthew 7:21,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
My analytical brain started forcing this question on my soul. “If Protestant (the root word is protest) means not-Catholic, then the question ‘why am I not Catholic?’ must be answered.” If I am to participate in hindering Christ’s prayer for unity in John 17 and Paul’s constant exhortations, I better have an amazing reason.
…I rarely journal. I hate routine. But when I left camp I wrote this down,
“God, what are you trying to tell me about Catholicism? So many things on this camp have brought it into my consideration and thoughts in general. …(list of the stuff above)… All of it seems so real. Where do I go from here? How do I respect the process of Catholicism and at the same time make an immediate change of practice? How much do I talk to my family about it? What will my relationships with my church friends look like? Give me your guidance and peace.”
And as I went home…I reached 1000 words.