Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
wo summers ago, I climbed Half Dome with my dad, my brother, and my husband. Half Dome is in Yosemite National Park, and the 16 mile round trip adventure to the top is awesome and tough. We hike through beautiful terrain--ranging from rocky switch backs under a canopy of forest, to slippery stone stairs next to showering waterfall where we get totally wet. The final climb is up steep cables harbored in granite rock. You cling to those cables with all your strength. The rock, even with the wooden slates placed for your feet to stand, is steep. You can't trust that your footing is enough to keep you from tumbling below.
You've just got to hang on.
I love challenges. I am not running marathons every few months (like my awesome sister), but I feel God close when I push myself to a place where I am dependent on Him to help me keep going. Physically, emotionally, mentally.
When my family piles onto the couch each week to watch The Amazing Race (the show we are currently crazy about), we root for our favorite teams as they endure mental and physical challenges in a race around the world. We watch the teams struggle to do things they have never done before: play bagpipes in a Scottish castle, make sandals on people's feet in Panama, free fall 37 stories off a skyscraper in Berlin. There are lots of mistakes and lots of freaking out. But, because there is a goal to complete--and it is a competition for one million dollars, and they are not doing this all alone, but with a teammate who believes in them and is cheering them on--the team members do these crazy things.
They have each other--so it is together that they stumble and pick themselves up and endure.
They keep going. They willingly allow themselves to be stretched in ways they didn't think possible. No matter their fear, they just don't quit. There is a prize for sticking with it--and it isn't just the money. After every leg of the race, the last team to arrive at the mat faces some kind of consequence, or ultimately, elimination from the race. They shed tears when they are eliminated. There is frustration and wishing things had gone better so they could go on. But you see joy, too--in each teammate's face--when they have given all that they had.
No matter what the outcome, we are rewarded when we give this race we run our all. When we have not held back. When we have trusted. When we ran with everything we had, and more.
In this amazing race, there is a cost to not trying. There is a cost to quitting. There is no reward for giving up and giving in and not going all in, full on. (Tweet this?) In Loop yesterday, God says these words:
Can we dare say it is fun to be stretched out of our comfort zones, wherever God leads? Can we believe we are made to be bold, live the race fully, walk hand in hand with God?
Are we even really living if we choose to not keep our eyes on God as He coaxes us on, with each step of the way, running with us the race He has for us to run? Maybe it is perfect that we feel we don't have what it takes, on our own, to run this race well.
Can you hear God cheering you on?