My journey through the Illustrated Faith’s online workshop “Revival Camp” continues! I feel like this devotional experience has been so inspired and watching Shanna Noel’s tutorials reminds me of the feeling I had doing Bible Study with some of my favorite youth leaders when I was in high school. I appreciate her honesty and love for God and, of course, her Bible Journaling tips. It’s so much fun to watch her create!
For the “Grow” badge, we focused on Nehemiah 10:29, a passage where the people of Israel took an oath to return to God’s Law as given to Moses. Earlier when Nehemiah actually read the law to the people, they burst into tears. It’s not easy to follow the 613 commandments of the Old Testament. I am grateful that Jesus has made the law simpler for us: “A new commandment I give you that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”-John 13:34. An oath seemed to fit well with the Revival Camp theme, so I made one myself: “I will grow in Christ and keep learning to love others as Christ loves me.”
As this weeks devotional encouraged, I spent some time with Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:1-8. There are many parallels between the two passages. The more time I spend Bible Journaling, the more I discover that certain phrases appear often throughout the Old Testament. Both of these passages suggest that if we meditate on the Law of the Lord day and night, God will prosper our way. I was inspired by Shanna Noel’s video this week to break out my water colors to paint a tree planted be by a stream. As I read Joshua 1:1-8 I was most taken with the words: “Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” I felt encouraged by these Words to keep growing in Christ through all the passions that God has placed in my heart during Revival Camp and to be strong and courageous in my pursuit of them.
As I’ve been working through the Revival Camp devotions, I typically work in my field journal first, but I made an exception this time. For our “Adventure” badge, the passage was Nehemiah 4:16-17. In this passage, Nehemiah describes the work of rebuilding that took place while under constant attack from enemies. Let me say: THIS IS NOT MY IDEA OF ADVENTURE! This just sounds awful and stressful and not the most productive way to get work done.
It does sound like a very fun preschool lesson to teach, especially with young boys. I can see myself telling the kids this story in a room with those big, red, cardboard brick blocks, giving the children hammers and swords. How much fun would that be? What could be better than play sword fighting while building with blocks? What could go wrong?
Personally, I really don’t like conflict. I used to think I avoided it because I was like a butterfly and just floated away to prettier places. Now I know I avoid it because when I am engaged in a real conflict, I stand my ground firmly like a bear. I either win the conflict or the relationship ends. And I hate to see it get to that point, so I rarely bring things to a head. I look for the compromise instead, and if possible, the win-win solution. I choose my battles carefully and reluctantly. I’d much prefer to make others happy. Many people mistake me for a people-pleaser, but that’s not quite accurate. I just happen to deeply and truly enjoy seeing others happy, and I treasure my relationships. (I’ve always related to Winnie the Pooh, and he is still a bear no matter how cuddly and soft and thoughtful he may seem.)
Conflict has always felt like the end of the world to me, not an adventure. I really needed to hear these words from the devotional: “Your dream is a fun adventure, but every action story has an element of conflict and ours is no different.” This is a whole new way of thinking for me and one that I intend to fully embrace going forward!
The devotional dared us to identify areas where its a challenge to remain focused and to make a plan for these areas. We were also encouraged to think of what weapons we need to claim victory. I was reminded of a familiar passage from Ephesians: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness given by the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the Word of God, prayer, and perseverance.
I don’t think of “Love” as a weapon, but recently I was at the Flight 93 memorial in Shankeville, PA. It is such a beautiful park now and I would encourage anyone to visit. It is inspiring to see a place where a great tragedy occurred transformed into a place of healing and beauty. While I was there, I listened to a speech by George Bush on continuous loop as my husband and kids looked at the other exhibits. These words stuck with me: “Individual choices make a difference. Love and sacrifice triumph over hatred and evil.”
“Revive” is the theme of the camp and also the theme of the next passage. For this badge, the verse was Isaiah 40:30-31. I wrote out the verse while playing around with a scriptier style of writing. It’s so beautiful to know that God does not stop at reviving us or restoring us to a previous state. When we wait on the Lord, we will soar like eagles! That’s an awesome promise!
The devotional encouraged us to make a list of ways to quiet ourselves. I’m an introspective sort of person who needs quiet, so I have a crazy long list of options. One thing I’ve been doing since watching the movie War Room is literally going into my closet and shutting the door and praying. It feels surprisingly good to be alone with God in my closet. (My kids think its a bit strange!) I also love being in nature and coloring. Sometimes being alone is not enough to quiet my soul. I need to be with someone who knows exactly what I need. Recently I went to see my friend Sarah, who I’ve known since kindergarten. We sang along with the song “House at Pooh Corner” in her mini-van, colored together, and enjoyed milkshakes at Steak & Shake. My hope is that everyone has a person in their life who calms and quiets their soul. Sometimes we experience God’s perfect love for us most concretely by simply being in the presence of someone who loves us no matter what!
Only three more weeks of Revival Camp to go!