The college group from my parents’ church at the time were camping in the local mountains. I know this because my parents were leaders for the group. At least that’s how I remember it. My younger brother and I had a fun time tagging along. I’m sure we spent much of the time doing what 5 and 7 year old boys do—running, climbing, and getting dirty. But to tell you the truth, I only remember flashes of that time. I’m not sure if the images in my head are real or perhaps pictures I saw later on.
Either way something real did happen at that camp. Something I’ll never forget. It was Saturday evening. All the craziness of the week had ended and now was the time for reflection. The group walked quietly through the woods to an old stone chapel. The flashlights went off as the lights came on. I remember the pews were made out of logs. Mom and Dad led my brother and me into one of the pews toward the back.
Other than that I really have no memory of what was going on. I was kind of aware that this was a solemn time for the camp participants to share what God had done in their lives over the past week. As a 7 year old there were more important things on my agenda…like picking on my brother. We would play this game where we would hold our finger as close to the other person as possible without touching him. If one of us touched the other one, he would immediately say, “Mom, he’s touching me!” I’m sure we were driving our parents nuts at the time, pushing the boundaries of our parents’ patience as well as the patience of those around us.
I kept waiting for the “shush” or the “settle down” but it never came. I couldn’t believe it! I was pretty sure we were being a disruption, but we were getting away with it! Or so I thought. Toward the end of what seemed forever, my dad reached out and grabbed both of our hands. I thought, “This is it!” It’s going to be bad. By the way we were behaving we deserved some sort of punishment!
To my horror, however, Dad turned away from the back door and headed toward the front of the chapel with the two of us in tow. This could not be good! What was he going to do? Was he going to make examples of us in front of everyone?
To my amazement, Dad didn’t mention our behavior at all. In fact he proceeded to tell all who were there how much he loved us, loved his family. I could hardly comprehend what was going on. But I knew I didn’t deserve this show of love. I deserved punishment.
As we quietly filed out of the chapel, something remarkable happened to me. God opened my eyes to His grace. I knew God had shown grace to me just as my dad had moments before. “For by grace you have been saved.” Eph 2:8