True life anecdote from FCA Camp.
Last day of camp. I don’t want to leave.
This place… these people… the presence of a God I never knew—in the blistering heat of my oppressed heart, here among the open sky, sweat from the daily grind of my sport, everything speaks life.
I walk to the practice field one last time after breakfast. One last time to be pushed to excellence by my coaches, to band together with my teammates and laugh without feeling guilty for the lightness in my chest.
As I make my way through campus, one of the staff slips next to me and matches my stride. We chat, and she can see that I walk heavy.
“What’s up?” she asks.
How do I tell her all that God has set within me this week? Where do I even begin?
I’m from a place that paralyzes and beats you down. Where it’s survival mode, where you scrape and climb your way up a pit just to be pushed back to the bottom. In a city that suffocates, one of the first pieces of your heart to go is hope. There is no room to breathe easy.
But at camp, with a wide world before me, the air is fresh, and for every smile tossed my way, there is a warmth that rises and I’m taking it in like I’ve never tasted the sun.
My mouth moves to lay out the deep thoughts of new faith, but I simply say, “Love.”
“Love?” she repeats.
“Love.” I shrug, helpless to come up with anything else. I tell her everyone is so full with it, full of joy, too. “It’s something I’ve never experienced before.”
And immediately, I think back to all the wrongs I’ve done. All the lies, all the heartbreak, all the black and blue I’ve inflicted because I was bruised first. But what all the speakers have been saying at worship each night about God’s love, how I’ve been embraced by encouragement from every staff, coach, and camper I encounter, and the patience of my Huddle leader as I’ve wrestled with my past and Christ’s piercing for my future—how could He forgive it all, just like that?
We stop short of the field and she turns to me, eyes bright, clear with hope and certainty. When she speaks, the words seek out my heart.
“I don’t know your whole story, but I do know this—God is good. And He keeps no records of our wrongs.”
God is good. Evidence of this all around. Learning to read the Bible in quiet time with His voice singing over me. The thrill of running free at practice, surrounded by teammates who become spiritual siblings. How I am accepted, just as I am. No one has cared for me like this before. They loved on me—they loved for me—when I couldn’t love myself.
Forgiveness. Joy. Peace. Love. And hope. Where I live, it seems like the cracked dirt beneath my feet will only ever crumble. But I’m learning that though what appears to be a barren field, I can hold to hope because what God plants, no one can uproot.
“This is all real,” I whisper, the last word catching in my throat. “God is real.”
The chatter of my team and coach’s whistle reel me back to the moment. They are gearing up for drills and I don’t want to miss a second.
Last day of camp. I don’t want to leave. But as she and I pray together, I feel that this is not the end. Camp gave me the beginning of one great adventure after another with Him.
I catch her gaze once more, my eyes lit with understanding. “As far as the east is from the west, He remembers sin no more.”
It takes nothing at all for me to breathe now.