Reflections from Man Camp
Earlier this month, 130 men within DCC set aside a weekend to reset their affections on Christ and grow in fellowship together at Island Lake Camp in Poulsbo, WA. Jesus was made much of, prayers were answered, and men left encouraged and renewed! Here’s just one of the many stories from the weekend.
As we settled into our seats and pulled out our bibles, the fatigue of the day became apparent. Men quietly greeted each other as the smell of coffee filled the room. After a busy week, the thought of lessons and activities was as daunting as it was exciting. For me, the week leading up to Man Camp had been particularly taxing. I felt tired, stretched thin, and distant from God.
As the first session began and we dove into God’s word, a simple but powerful theme began to take center stage: Endurance.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God..” – Hebrews 12:1-2.
Man Camp itself was divided into four sessions, breaking down Hebrews 12:1-3. The first session discussed what endurance is and why we need it. We reflected on the “great cloud of witnesses”- ordinary men who trusted deeply in God – and how their trust and dependence on God offers us strength, encouragement, and a new perspective to trust God in difficult circumstances. Session two highlighted the weight and sin that clings so closely to our souls, why it clings so closely, and how we can, by God’s grace, start to lay it aside. In the third session, we learned what it takes to run the race with endurance and how we can tell if we are running the race well. Finally, in the last session, we evaluated what our hearts are truly pursing, remembering the Lord and his sacrifice for us, and refocusing our hearts, minds, and souls on who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and how He is worthy of the central affections of our hearts.
Looking back, I can clearly see that the Lord was beginning to reveal a gospel disconnect in my life. While I didn’t realize it at the time, I had started to place my trust, joy, and satisfaction in my doings rather than in my Savior. This subtle change happened over a series of months and had left me feeling spiritually dry, focused on my sin and failures, and overall a bit weary in pursuing God.
It was during the last session that I was reminded of the encouragement from the author of Hebrews to set my attention on Jesus as my deepest joy and greatest treasure. I had spent so much of my energy trying to fix my mistakes and shortcomings and subtly win God’s approval that I had forgotten who my Jesus is. He is the one who is appointed as the heir of all things and it is through Him that all things were created in this world (Heb 1:2). He is the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of His nature. He is the one who upholds the universe by the word of His power. He is the one who made purification for our sins. (Heb 1:3) It is Him who everything is subject to, and nothing is outside of His control. (Heb 2:8) It is Him who is founder of our salvation. (Heb 2:10) It is Him who is our great high priest who has passed through the heavens. (Heb 4:14) He is our sure and steadfast anchor of our souls. (Heb 6:19) He is perfect forever. (Heb. 7:28) It is Him who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places. (Heb. 8:1-2) and it is Him who deeply loves me and draws me near with his grace and mercy.
It is only by looking towards Jesus that we can run this race. It starts with Him, it continues with Him, and it will end with Him. It is not done by pulling up our boot straps and simply manning up. It is done only through His grace and His strength. We add nothing, we only faithfully pursue Him.
I know that in this day and age, it can be hard to take a step away from all the priorities we have for a weekend getaway. I know that events like this can seem a burden, but that is far from the truth. We all need time to get away and truly reflect and recalibrate our hearts on our gracious God. I have consistently seen the Lord move in mine and others lives during this time, and I am confident He will continue this good work in the years to come.
Love you all,
Kyle Stewart, DCC Member