Camp is continuing to go well. I gave a talk on God’s Creation yesterday; focusing on how we can listen for God and experience/encounter God through God’s Creation. Andy followed up last night with the ultimate creation of humanity, and God’s love and design that God put into us. We laughed a lot last night, which was great. Led the students in a guided Ignatian prayer last night, we’re doing the Jesus prayer tonight, then a contemplative prayer tomorrow night, and lectio divina on the last night. I had a lot of fun just getting to know the students better yesterday, but one conversation with a girl yesterday raised some questions for me…
She said, “Bro Dean [that’s my name], I have some questions for you…” and she proceeded to ask questions along these lines:
- Why is it fair for someone to be horrible for their entire life, kill people, etc. and then on their death bed accept Jesus and get into Heaven…when someone could be good their entire life and just not accept Jesus and go to Hell?
- What about those people in the 3rd-world countries living out in the jungles who never hear about Jesus?
- Why am I supposed to trust and believe in the Bible? How do I know some dude just didn’t make up that whole Adam/Eve story?
- Why did Adam/Eve have to screw up the rest of us?
- I can’t believe in something/someone I can’t see…and I can’t feel.
She’s here with a friend who *thought* this girl was a total Christian, and she is standing there while her friend is saying all these things, asking these questions, saying she doesn’t know if she believes in God or not. It’s surprising how quick the other fellow campers are to jump in and give their answers (albeit Sunday School answers) and share their “concern” or “disapproval” for her not believing in God. She says she came up here this week to check it out – to learn more. She doesn’t want to just blindly/naively believe in something she’s not sure about.
I applauded her honesty, her questions, her desire to search. I didn’t really give her many answers…I just asked her more questions.
But it’s incredibly annoying/funny how when I was talking with her yesterday (which turned into a group of about 8 campers), how quick I just want to jump in and give her the easy/cliche/apologetic answers. “Oh, you can’t believe in something you can’t see…? Well, do you see the wind? No…but you can FEEL the wind, or you can SEE the EFFECTS of the wind…” — which I did say to her but gave it a disclaimer of being a really cheesy Christian analogy…and her response is “Yah, well, I don’t feel God…”
It is so easy for us to simply give the easy answers…when I’m uncomfortable, and not sure what to say – these are the things that pop into my head first. And that annoys the hell out of me. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to give the easy/cliched-answers – no way. Giving her “More than a Carpenter” or “The Case for Christ” was not going to help her any (I don’t think). I don’t think she necessarily cared about the historicity of the Bible, or all the factual/archeological evidence…
And I don’t really know where to go from here…any thoughts anyone???
I pulled her aside after campfire last night and challenged her to pray a pray every morning. I said, “I know it’s a bit of a weird thing to pray to a god you aren’t even sure exists…but I just want you to do this for me. Each morning when you get up this week at camp, pray this prayer: ‘God, I don’t even know if you’re real or not…I have no idea. But…if you are real, if you’re *really* God, then please reveal yourself to me.’ Now, this isn’t like a guaranteed-to-work prayer, but simply allow yourself to be open to the fact that God very well MAY exist and that God just might love you…”
I saw her this morning, gave her that “Did you do it” look and she smiled and said yes…