Tuesday night at camp

There are a lot of things I will remember about our youth camp this summer. There are phrases and exclamations that started at camp that will last for months and months, and perhaps on into the next camp. There was the memorable trip down the Ocoee River that tried to kill a good portion of our group, but was unsuccessful. There were conversations. There were songs. There were games, skits and talent shows. There were a lot of laughs, and just as many tears. But the one thing I will hold onto for the rest of my days on earth happened on Tuesday night, during worship.

The all student band had done a fantastic job. The worship leader for camp was a high school student who is absolutely amazing. He is a hard worker, a nice guy, a good friend, and an amazing example of what it means to follow Christ. I believe he has inspired my 5 year old son to one day be either in a worship band, or be an actual worship leader. And, if I could pick someone for my son to be like when he is a teenager, this guy would be at the top of my list, about 100 spots ahead of myself as a teenager.

It was the last song of the night, right before Blake got up to speak. I was in the worship zone. My hand had been up in the air most of the time. The volume of the band was loud enough to drown out my singing voice and spare the people around me. The music began. I knew the song well. I wouldn’t have to refer to the words on the screen much. I could just close my eyes and sing.

My son was standing with some other kids. A few of the teenage girls took a liking to him and wanted him with them during worship. I kept an eye on him. I couldn’t tell if he had been singing or just taking it all in. We don’t get to do worship together often because he is with the kids and I am in big church on Sunday morning, or with the high school kids on Thursday night. So I kind of wanted him near me, but I also wanted him to explore his independence at camp. I let him stand off on his own, but a few lines into the song he turned and walked over to me and asked me to pick him up through the universal sign language of stretching his arms up towards me and pushing his body weight against me. How could I say no in that moment? “Sorry son, I want to worship alone with my Father.” No. I had to pick him up.

Holding him in my arms, I closed my eyes and kept singing the song. My left hand went up into the air, fingers stretched out. I opened my eyes to see his eyes fixed on the band and his right arm high up in the air. Tears formed in my eyes. It must have been from excessive dust in the air because I’m not much of a crier. Somehow the dust got in my eye at the exact moment that I realized I was worshiping my creator while I held my son in my arms. The tears thickened to the point that one tear drop fell from each eye.

We continued to sing together. He would watch me out of the corner of his eye to see what I was doing and would copy it. Or, he would bury his face in my neck as I belted out the lines to the song, “Oh, how he loves me. Oh, Oh how he loves me. How he loves me, oh.”

It was hard to sing as something had gotten lodged in my throat. It felt like a grapefruit and I could barely get the words out. My son and I worshiped with our hearts that night. For a few minutes it was just God, him, and me. The rest of the room faded away. The hundred other people didn’t matter. He and I had a moment with our God.

Most likely he will forget the experience. But, I believe, imbedded in his heart was the lesson that it is ok to lift your hands up to your creator and sing out to him in praise and worship. Whether he remembers the moment he learned that lesson or not doesn’t really matter. The fact is, he saw his dad do it. He trusts his father. He knows it’s ok to worship God. He trusts God.

There are a lot of ways that I have messed up as a father. And, there are bound to be many more mistakes. But the one thing I want him to get from me is that no matter how bad you mess up. No matter how bad you think you have messed up. You can always go to God. He will always take you back.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way:

He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

Cause He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves…

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