Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea.
The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.
But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the LORD and believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.
Did you click it? Did you watch the video? It’s a song I learned when I was a counselor and music director at Camp Rockfish, one of our United Methodist camps in NC. It’s funny to me how a scripture can sometimes transport you to another place in time and bring up things you had not thought about in years. Today, I’m reminded that God can open up pathways where and when we least expect them.
You see…when I worked at Camp Rockfish as a Camp Counselor, I thought I knew my path. It was 25 years ago. I had felt God tugging at me to go into the ministry. I was in college and exploring what that meant. I didn’t want to be a ‘stuffy old preacher’ in a suit every Sunday. Youth pastors were just starting to wear skinny jeans and wear grungy flannels and I was in.
While the traditional summer camp wasn’t in session, some of the camp staff worked weekend retreats in the cooler months of the year. Often, we would have inner city youth from Fayetteville NC who had arrest records, unstable home lives and not much more than that…I thought God was pointing me in that direction. To work with kids who had been on difficult journeys and had been in trouble. To help them discover how much God loves them no matter what!
These kids would come from downtown Fayetteville…most of them lived in government housing projects and had never experienced being out in the sticks. And that’s where the camp was. Out in the middle of nowhere, where Cumberland, Hoke and Robeson counties joined was a camp built on a picturesque lake surrounded by hundreds of acres of thick forest. This is the place a judge ordered these kids to spend weekend retreats as a last option or their next arrest or offense would result in jail time. The offenses were serious. Some were even violent. All of the kids there needed to know they were loved and cared for. That was something the judge and our camp director hoped they would experience and it would be life changing.
I’d like to think that in some way, God used that time and place for them as a tool. The kids, for the most part, lacked having a support system, other than the few that had gang affiliations. What they all had is God and many of God’s people trying to help watch out for them at a young and difficult age. There were several of these young people that I witnessed make a statement of confession…they were tired of the same old same old and were able to see an opportunity for a better way with God as their center.
God provides us pathways, sometimes when we least expect it and sometimes in the unlikeliest of places. I couldn’t have imagined my path in ministry would take the course it has, and I have no regrets. I try to welcome everyday how God might use me next.
Be open today to receive a new direction and a new path that God may have for you. Who knows what grand adventures God may have in store?
Pastor Michael Williams