Familiar vs. Fascination



By Luke Lang

It was the summer before my senior year. I was at a camp in Buffalo Gap, Texas. I had gone to the same camp for years.

It was all so very familiar. Camp was important. It was where I got my yearly God fix.

I repeated the same cycle every year.

I waited until the last night (because I wanted to have fun the first few nights before I got all spiritual). I would go down to the front of the open air tabernacle when the invitation was given.

There was always a middleman to take me to Jesus, usually a middle-aged pastor who would pray with me as he swatted mosquitos. I made promises. I said I was sorry.

It was all so very familiar. I felt fired up, I was excited, I had reconnected with Jesus. It was awesome! I had been to the mountaintop.

Then, we would go home and real life was still there… waiting for us.

It was all so very familiar.

That fire would last until about the first week of school and then it would unceremoniously fizzle. Promises made were slowly forgotten.

The problem was that I treated Jesus like a camp girlfriend. We had a great week and it was exciting. But, at the end of the week, he went his way and I went mine. I promised to write. And he said he already had. The only thing I took home was dirty laundry and an understandable aversion to sloppy joes.

But, the summer before my senior year, everything changed. Familiar became fascination.

I took Jesus home with me.

I realized that Jesus wasn’t content being a camp buddy. One of my leaders challenged me and gave me permission to take Jesus home.

Sometimes that’s all it takes. It changed everything for me, the realization that my relationship with God was meant to be a constant thing and not a camp thing.

I was fascinated. I fell in love. That love has grown.

Now, many years later, I’ve gone to so many camps and I’ve consumed more sloppy joes than I can count. I’ve seen the same cycle repeated by lots of kids.

It’s all so very familiar.

There’s only one way to break the cycle: Familiar MUST become fascination. A holy fascination that fuels a fire that won’t fizzle. We have to give kids permission to take God home with them. That means we let them know that they don’t need a middleman. They can do business with God by themselves.

That can happen at camp but it can also be duplicated at home or school. It’s all so very fascinating. It turns out, if we give people permission to ask for and do Jesus stuff, they will do it.

That’s scary because we want to control, we want to count. We want to be the middleman, the person up front who takes them to Jesus. We aren’t doing them any favors with that mindset. We are setting them up for the camp cycle.

But it’s not about who gets the credit, it’s about who gets the glory!

We must teach our kids that doing business with God is something they can do in their bedroom when the excitement of camp settles down. That is the most important life skill we can team teach.

They will be fascinated. They will fall in love. The cycle will be broken. Familiar is defanged.

Nothing will ever be the same.