How Not to Lose
“The Camp High”
As I sat in the back of the auditorium listening to hundreds of students worshiping, I was distressed by a single thought: what if all 500 of these students go home tomorrow and lose this passion?
The inevitable talk on the last night of camp encourages students not to let the flame die out. Continue the momentum! Don’t lose the camp high!
Why we would ever want to lose that feeling: that electric joy in the tender moments of vulnerability before the Lord?
As I have sought the Lord with this question, He has led me to a realization.
These life changing moments we have at camps and retreats have something in common: isolation from distractions. For several days everyone is away from their phones, TV, work, friends and even family. These experiences are designed to allow us complete, undistracted, devotion to the Lord.
This “camp high” truly has little to do with the location at all. The camp simply facilitates these times. Rather, these moments are a glimpse of what it feels like to convene with the Holy Spirit directly and uninterrupted.
Upon his baptism, Jesus immediately got up and went off into the wilderness for forty days and nights. Matthew 4:1-2 tells us “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
For forty days Christ spent uninterrupted, intimate time with His Father. At the conclusion of that time the devil came to tempt Him, but Jesus was prepared.
In another biblical example, Elijah walked for forty days and nights to reach Mount Horeb so he could convene with the Lord. (1 Kings 19:5-13) He stood out on the mountain and waited through the great wind, the earthquake and the fire until he heard the voice of the Lord as a gentle whisper.
Find a Regular Rhythm
Jesus made times like these a part of His regular rhythm. (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, 6:12-13, 11:1-2) So much so that His disciples began to ask Him to teach them how to pray like He did.
How often do we make times of solitude, silence and prayer a part of our regular rhythm? I would argue that this needs to be a non-negotiable part of our spiritual walk.
I theorized I could recreate this “camp high” in a different setting by carving out undistracted time with the Lord. I was determined to put this theory to the test.
I found a park on the edge of town. It didn’t have a playground or even a lot of foot traffic. It was just a network of trails that wind their way through the trees and over creeks.
When I got there, I decided to take it a step farther; I was going to leave my phone and other belongings in the car while I was out in the park.
What followed over the next several months of regularly spending extended, undistracted time with God were nothing short of the most intimate and challenging moments I have experienced before the Lord.
Going out to the park is not a magic 8-ball or a genie in a lamp, where the Lord automatically speaks and answers all your prayers. But I will say there was a difference in my time with the Lord; there was an intimacy, vulnerability, and stretching in those moments.
Don’t Seek Solitude Alone
After spending several months going out to the park once a week I began to develop the habit.
And I began to learn from my mistakes; one of them being I wasn’t bringing anyone with me!
I work with college students for a living. I am a full-time mobilizer who seeks to see sending movements started all over the globe.
Here I was, having some of the most intimate and meaningful encounters with the Lord in my life, and I wasn’t bringing anyone with me!
I decided I needed to teach others to practice the regular rhythm of solitude and silence–not just expose them to it but teach them how to teach others. I prayed for three college students to pour into who would be faithful, available, initiative taking, teachable and humble. The Lord provided.
I didn’t want to disciple a student who was not willing to disciple someone else when our discipleship process ended. So, in order to step into this with me they had to commit to finding three different guys at the end of our time together to teach and lead in this as well.
Next, I told them to block out a three-hour chunk once per week. That didn’t mean we would always spend three hours at the park. But I wanted each of my guys to be free from the distraction of other plans (classes, homework, hanging out with friends, meals).
Our time at the park typically looks something like this. We often walk on trails separate from each other so we are distraction free. (Noticing a theme?)
I also tell each of the young men that they have to be truly vulnerable and honest with the Lord. Not just transparent, but deeply vulnerable. Sometimes it means they have to express anger, frustration, bitterness or sorrow to the Lord and trust He is big enough to deal with their problems and walk with them in those.
We leave the car and just start walking and praying, planning to meet at the car later. Sometimes that means we are out there for 45 minutes, and other times my students and I are at the park for 3 hours.
I also require that we ride together to the park. This gives us accountability to go as well as an opportunity to talk and process the things of life together. The car ride is a great opportunity to learn more about where they are currently and where I need to lead them next.
Honestly, my time at the park with my students gives me all the material I needed to disciple them. It brings up questions to explore, topics to study and issues to work through.
Don’t Fall Asleep
In Matthew 26, as Jesus prepares to be arrested and eventually crucified, He desires to spend time alone with the Father, and He wants His brothers and disciples to be with Him. He asks those closest to Him to stand watch with Him and pray.
What do they do? They fall asleep. Three times Jesus comes back and asks them to be with Him, and each time they fall asleep.
What an opportunity wasted! Don’t miss those moments yourself.
Practice the discipline of setting aside time each week to be in solitude and silence with the Lord, free from distraction.
And don’t miss the chance to teach this to others who can teach others also! Let’s be disciples and make disciples who carry the “high” of uninterrupted fellowship with the Spirit with them every day.