I owe a lot to Camp Deer Run. It was there that I learned how much I loved my parents, as I teared up in my top bunk watching them drive away for two weeks. It was there that I saw what godly young men looked like, as I watched my counselors love, teach, and play with me. It was there where I got to imitate the love I’d been shown to the young ones in my group as they wrestled me in the pool, pulling out at least half of my leg hairs in the process. And it was there where I found the love of my life, Haley Anne, who has thankfully stuck with me these past eight years as my wife.
And so, it is with great honor that I share with you my reflections on 2009: Beautiful Feet. The theme comes from Romans 10:15b “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Like any good CDR group leader would, I’ll begin my blog with a story. It’s second session, and I’ve just finished crafting my group leader whistle. Proud as a peacock, I blow the Cheukawaka signal to prepare everyone for outcamping . For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept, “out-camping” is when we leave the conveniences of old, crowded, un-air-conditioned cabins to go even deeper in the woods to eat cheap hot dogs and sleep on the ground. It’s fantastic.
What made this out-camping experience unique was the weather. After three or so hours out in the middle of nowhere, right after everyone set up their tents and sleeping bags, there came a downpour. It thus fell upon me to gather the forty or so 11-year olds along with the ten or so fellow staff members, pack up our freshly unpacked gear, lug everything back up the hill and onto the trailer, and ride a mile back to camp in the middle of the storm. Needless to say, we were having a great time.
Not wanting the gross weather to ruin the kids’ experience, I planned the perfect activity designed to make our evening do a 180: Ultimate Dodgeball. Each cabin was assigned a colored T-shirt to wear to represent their group. The pavilion was transformed into a dodgeball paradise, complete with barriers made from the Rec Hall pews and folding tables. But the crown jewel was the sound system, cranked to a 10 for music and live commentary from yours truly. It was a blast!
Until it wasn’t. Hayden, one of the campers from Men’s 1 was missing. His counselor explained to me that Hayden had never returned to the cabin after sending them all to the bathhouse before bed. Hayden was lost. On top of that, everyone else in the camp was out in the woods for out-camping, which meant that there was no one to help us search the campgrounds, which at this point resembled a soggy ghost-town. So there we were, me and Hayden’s counselor, tired and wet out into the darkness to find our lost camper.
After splitting up to better search for Hayden, I heard the good news: “He’s here! He’s here! I found him!” Taking off at a sprint, I ran down the hill to the pavilion from where the voice was coming. As I approached I saw the most precious and simultaneously frustrating thing I’d see all summer: Hayden, fast asleep on one of the Rec Hall benches. Hayden was found. We could both breathe a sigh of relief. That night I got to fully experience the truths of what Paul wrote in Romans: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
When Paul wrote this portion of his letter to the churches in Rome, he was pulling thoughts from Isaiah 52. There the prophet writes about the good news that God would do again what he did for Israel years ago when he saved them from Egyptian captivity. Jerusalem would again be redeemed. God would again comfort his people. But this time “all the ends of the earth [would] see the salvation of God.” (v. 10)
What excited Paul to include this text from Isaiah in his letter was the fact that this promise had come true! Through the dying and rising of Jesus, God’s salvation had come to the world! Not only that, but now these new communities of Jesus-followers were part of the Isaiah story. These were the men and women “on the mountains, whose feet brought good news, who proclaimed peace, good tidings, salvation, and who said to Zion ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7 paraphrased). Not only had God saved the world, but he had called those who were part of the new creation to proclaim from the mountains the good news for all to hear.
This is our calling as Christians: to have beautiful feet by telling the world the good news of Jesus. After all, “how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15a) God is sending us to let the world know of his salvation. Like Hayden, we were all lost, but have since been found- and that’s good news worth sharing.