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New Mercies

This week's post if from one of summer program directors at our Ingham Lake location. Each summer we hire two summer program directors for each of our locations. These two people at each location are responsible for making the day to day program happen at each location. From leading chapel times and games, to setting things up behind the scenes, our summer program directors a key part of our leadership team for our on-site ministries throughout the summer! Thanks for sharing this week Karisa!

This summer has been all about flexibility, going with the flow, and allowing the Spirit to lead me every day. I’m Karisa Meier and I’ve been serving as one of the Program Directors over at the Ingham site this summer. When campers ask me how long I’ve been at Ingham, they are always surprised when I tell them that it’s my first summer. And I have to be honest when I say that I was surprised when I accepted the job. I stepped into this position having only a week’s experience with Ingham and that was as a fourth grader (or something) about ten years ago. I’m pretty sure things have changed since then. However, my previous two summers on staff at the Okoboji location prepared me well for everything I’ve done in the last three months.

During staff training, my uncertainty toward the summer took up a lot of space in my brain and I consistently found myself praying to be Spirit-led. That message kept resonating and I wasn’t sure why. However, once camp actually started, it became quite clear that I would be challenged in many ways throughout the summer and as a relatively Type-A person, who likes to plan things out and have everything go exactly as desired, the challenge of changing things on the fly and still being present with the campers was a difficult one. And I would need to be led by the Spirit to get through them.

After a few weeks, I eventually felt the routine of youth camps, the hopefully-organized-chaos blended with the beautiful movement of the Lord in the campers’ lives. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job. But all it took was a large week of campers and some not so ideal weather to change my whole perspective. The stresses of a constantly changing schedule due to the weather on top of those involved in managing an extra-large group, led me to feel pretty defeated on a few occasions. And while I kept things together for the campers, the moments I had to myself were filled with quite a bit of disappointment and frustration, mostly directed at myself for not doing a better job. There were so many things I would change if I could have just another go at the day.

However, in the lowest moments I found myself reminded that each day is a new chance, and if I can extend grace to campers, reminding them that they are made new each and every day, the same is true for me. I might never be able to physically do a day over, but every morning marks a new opportunity for God to work. And I don’t have to force it--I will find that He leads, especially when I am not trying to make something happen all on my own. After this realization, I found myself noticing God’s hand far more often. I could see the campers more through His eyes, and view them not as a source of frustration, but instead as children of the Father.

It was that attitude shift which allowed me to experience a moment with those campers completely unplanned, something that rose out of the chaos and reminded me how God still works, even when it’s difficult to see it. Although the campers were difficult at times, I loved them. And, though the day was messy, they were still experiencing the love of Christ. I realized I could give them and myself another chance.

One passage especially came up during staff training and again that particular week was Lamentations 3:22-24.

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

23 They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

His mercies are new every morning. No matter what happened the day before, each day is a chance for us to see God’s work--to be refreshed, to be joyful, to be strengthened and empowered. And more than that, His mercies are new every moment. God holds no grudges against us, and every second of every day He offers his love and grace to us when we do not deserve it. So, I don’t have to get everything right on the first try. I can extend grace to myself. And campers surely don’t have to get everything right either.

This summer has taught me a lot about second chances. Not only that God has unlimited chances for us, but in order to live more like Jesus, we must also offer those Brand New chances, even when they may be undeserved. Because God works in amazing ways, when we keep this grace in mind, we may be more open to the Spirit, seeing God move in the world around us. The love God has for us never ceases, he is faithful, extending mercy to us every day, therefore, we can and should place our hope, our security, and our strength in Him.

Follow Up

- How much do you like to plan ahead? When it seems that God changes the plans on you, are you pretty willing to go with the flow to see what God is doing? Or are more likely to try and stubbornly stick to your original plan?

- When you feel like you have messed up and done things less than perfectly, are you willing to give yourself a second chance? Do you feel like you deserve a second chance? How do you experience God's grace and mercy in your life?

- Want to dive into out summer theme for 2021? You can check out our blog series focusing on each of our 5 daily theme verses or our Bible study available online or through our BEYOND App (available in both the App Store and on Google Play by searching “IOLBC”).


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