Hey Camp Gilgal – it’s Sneezy! I’ve been looking at some interesting articles about camp this week to help us staff prepare, and I want to share my thoughts with you on this particular one called, “A Prayer in the Forest.” Full article can be found here.
Last year at junior camp, the staff read a Psalm together each morning during our staff meetings. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, but I LOVE the Psalms because they bring me so much comfort and I love the way they are written. The Psalms have a unique way of reminding me that God is a personal God who cares deeply about His people. A large portion of the Psalms are written by David, who is being pursued by his enemies and is in a desperate situation. But, he cries out to God and truly tells Him what is on his heart. I love taking David’s words and making them my own prayer to God.
The author of this article, Oren, recounts a time at summer camp where he got lost (yikes). Not knowing what to do, he started to whisper some Psalms to himself that he remembered from his classes. Psalm 23:4 came to his mind (if you’ve been to camp before, you’ve definitely heard this Psalm! It’s a super well known one): “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Oren says that even as he was lost at camp, this Psalm helped him to clear his mind and reduce his anxiety.
Psalms are often recounted during liturgical services, but in this situation Oren saw how relevant they were to life. The Ketuvim (the part of the Hebrew Bible called “the writings”) weren’t given much priority in his classes, but the words from the Psalms came alive to him at the Orthodox summer camp he attended. Oren says: ” I’ve concluded that the Psalms’ effect is twofold: They are a prayer to God for healing and salvation, and they’re also for us to feel reassured that there is One Above who can help, that not all is lost. They provide us with a way to cry out to God—representing, perhaps, the basic human desire for a protector with powers beyond any human’s.”
The poetry from the Psalms is still relevant for us today as Jewish people who believe in Jesus. The Psalms are a great place to start for memorizing Scripture and hiding God’s word in your heart. The Psalms act as a guideline for prayer, they bring comfort and peace, and they also point to the Messiah. Psalm 118 (I love this Psalm!) says:
Verse 14: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation”
Verse 22-23: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes”
The Psalms take on even more meaning for us as believers because we know that Jesus is our salvation, and that He is the one all of Hebrew Scripture points to. How awesome! Man, I just love the Psalms. Whether you’re a first time camper, a veteran, or a parent of either category – the Psalms teach us that there is a God we can call out to who is in control at camp and in our everyday lives. I’m so glad that this is true of our God. Sox, Beardo and I have been reminding ourselves of this as we get ready for camp. We talk about the Psalms a lot at camp too, and I’m so glad we do, because I love them and they constantly remind me that God’s got me. Whether I’m at camp or I’m back home in Toronto, God is my refuge and my strength (Psalm 46:1).
Also I realize that this article is about getting lost at camp which is discomforting (and highly unlikely!) The Psalms are a good resource and a reminder whether we’re at home, at camp, missing home while we’re at camp, or missing campers while we’re at home. God is always with us and his word is always good.
Until next time,