““But,” the LORD said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”” Exodus 33:20-23 ESV (God to Moses)
Coming from the flat, prairie of Iowa, I was immediately taken by the towering Sawtooth Mountains that surrounded me this summer. I was never quite used to the stoic peaks that were always visible– it was one of many new things I faced this summer. I had never been to Luther Heights Bible Camp before I joined the summer staff as a counselor, but the place I experienced was both humbling and astounding. It is a holy a place; a place where God walks the dusty trails past the cabins and down along Lake Alturas night and day. While I couldn’t always see God’s face clearly, the brightening presence of His back and footprints left tendrils of glory that gleamed bright. Like Moses, even just seeing a glimpse of God’s glory left me in awe. Each time, I learned more about who God is. Here are a few moments of God passing by at Luther Heights.
Brings Chaos into Order
During our first youth camp week, chaos erupted. One third of our staff came down with the stomach flu by day two, and “pivot” become very common in our vocabulary due to constant and unexpected changes. But out of the chaos God’s glory erupted. Team dynamics that were shaky fell into place as everyone worked towards the common goal of providing the best camp experience. Camp thrived and kids left seeing God in new ways, despite our staff numbers being low. Instead of finishing the week disappointed, the Lord carried and sustained us. With our team bonds strengthened and purpose for the summer revived, I saw how God used chaos and disorder to break down and rebuild us into obedient servants.
Shows Radical Hospitality
Every summer, Luther Heights hosts HODIA, a weeklong camp for kids and teens with Type 1 Diabetes. As a Type 1 Diabetic, normal experiences are always more complex because of health risks, so a week at camp learning how to live life unhindered by diabetes is priceless. Our staff had the wonderful opportunity to serve them through food, cleaning, and maintenance. Seeing the campers learn about their bodies and hearing about their daily excursions was deeply moving. As staff, we provided the space in which they learned how to live a full life battling a chronic disease. I was struck by how God held them so tenderly— providing a place where they could be their full selves. Watching the teens experience camp taught us an important lesson: simple acts of serving is hospitality. We learned how to love and serve deeply by peeling potatoes, washing dishes, and cleaning bathroom; our hearts are changed because of it. God’s radical hospitality can be simple but life changing for both giver and receiver.
Shows Power in Our Weakness
The weeks we counselors felt most anxious and least qualified to lead and teach campers was where God’s glory was most visible. Before high school week, a fellow counselor questioned, “How can I do this?” We knew that older campers meant bigger questions and complex problems. Are we capable of guiding campers through hard questions about life and God? By the end of the week, the same staff member was in awe of how amazing the week had gone, saying, “I know I couldn’t have done this on my own.” God hears us when we feel weak, and thankfully, we aren’t called to know everything. Instead, we are called to be faithful. When we give up any thoughts of our own qualifications and let God work in His power and might, God’s glory breaks through. In our weakness, God finds us as the most perfect vessels for His glory.
Dwells Within Us and in Community
It was the last night of youth camp and my cabin was sitting in a circle processing the evening’s faith walk. They told me that the “Prayers of Intercession” station hit them the hardest. My cabin chose to pray for people around the world—people fighting overseas, communities battling Covid, people suffering from lack of resources and malnutrition, etc.… They sat, tears in their eyes, lamenting about how they had so much, yet the rest of the world did not have the same luxuries and resources. I was struck by the hearts of these 13-year-olds who were weeping for their brothers and sisters in need. In that moment, I saw Christ clearly shining through each one of them. It was a beautiful picture of what the church should be and what we as Christians are called by Paul in Romans to do, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” That night, my heart was changed by my middle school campers because God’s heart dwelled inside of them. This is what happens as God’s people—we live in community and fellowship with each other knowing that the Holy Spirit is inside of us. The Spirit works in and through the people around us, molding us to be more like Christ.
There are so many other moments I could choose from, but that would be another novel. God was walking the dusty trails of Luther Heights and I can’t wait to see where He’ll pass by next summer.
Let us pray...
Oh God, whose glory is so bright, we pray that you continue to live in the hearts and minds of the campers and staff of Luther Heights. May they continue to recognize your goodness, glory, and grace in their lives. Amen.