Do you know that I still get a brochure, right around springtime, from a camp I attended and then worked at as a youth? Not surprisingly, succeeding generations of campers return there each summer for two of the best weeks of their lives. No surprise, then, that the camp is called "Summer's Best Two Weeks". It is a Christian camp nestled among the rolling and lush hills of western Pennsylvania and it surrounds a beautiful lake.
The whole camp is divided up into two teams, The Romans and The Galatians. Campers are taught how to win...and yes, lose graciously and no matter what, give the glory to God. They get to try their hand at things they might not otherwise get a chance to, like: archery, kayaking, water skiing, zip lining, white water rafting, etc.
This is where I learned the acronym JOY:
in that order...
In all the things that we did or tried we were encouraged to keep in mind this motto:
"I am third."
"I am third", was a way for us to keep our priorities in place. We are to love Jesus first, Others second, and You (meaning ourselves) last.
At the end of the two weeks when parents attended and awards and team ribbons were passed out, the last award given was the "I am third" award. It was given to a male and female camper on the Romans' team and the same on the Galatians' team.
I was not an athletic standout for other awards and ribbons, but my heart did indeed feel full, and yes I cried, when my name was called for the team Romans' female "I am third" award.
I can honestly say that no first place award, trophy, or ribbon garnered either before or after that day, has meant as much to me as that award. It was humbling and rewarding to know that others saw me as someone who had Jesus as the Lord of her life and wasn't out to gain recognition for herself at all costs.
Is that to say that I never coveted the spotlight? I would be a liar if "Me" first didn't pop out its ugly little head. I'm human...we're all human! I have chased applause, accolades, and awards, but you know, in the end they really left me feeling hollow and empty.
Long after I left camp, I have held onto the foundation in the scriptures from which the acronym "JOY" comes.
Luke 10:27: (Jesus speaking to the disciples) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself."....
"Do this and you will live," (Jesus ends the greatest command with this).
Wouldn't our world be a much better place if we put all the squabbling over insignificant details aside and went back to these basics? We would not murder, or steal, or cheat, or lie if we were loving the Lord first and loving others as we love ourselves.
What if, after lifting the name of our Lord Jesus on high, our next priority would be to build up, encourage, and edify others? What if our priority was not on promoting ourselves, but was, instead, on cheering others on from the sidelines?
Some martyrs out there are good at the "Jesus" and "Others" part, but they would only have "JO" if they stopped there. God does not want us to ignore and not love ourselves. Far from it...we are the crown jewel of His creation...created in His very image...given a mind that can relate and be in relationship with Him. Oh how he wants us to take time to love ourselves and enjoy all of Creation that He has so lovingly given us. Add in that "Y"!!
He wants us to crawl up onto His knee and let Him love on us. That, my friends brings God joy.
Getting life in order: Jesus, Others, You...JOY!! That not only brings us joy, but, I have found, it is the key to living life to the full...
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you for who you are and for all you have done for me. I am so humbled, God, that you put me before yourself and gave your only son to be a sacrifice offering for my sins so that I could live with you forever. Help me to imitate your sacrificial giving by putting Jesus first, others second, and then let me be third. Let me learn to live life to the full by lifting Jesus and Others up. Let me find the joy that comes from putting others before myself. Let me be the one to wash another's feet. Humble me Lord I pray. In Jesus name, Amen
ps. Update on REDEEMER CHRISTIAN SCHOOL: I am thrilled to report that 24 of our 30 current students have been sponsored for the upcoming school year. That leaves 6 students that still need someone to lovingly sponsor them.
For only $10/month you can take an orphaned or destitute child out of harm's way; give them the hope of an education, and the beautiful love of Jesus. You can pay in installments.
If we sponsor all 30...we have room for more children and many are coming to our doors but are having to be turned away. With more sponsors we can add children to the school and literally save their lives.
Will you save the life of one of these precious ones?
Donations can be sent to: Bev Rihtarchik (write RCS in memo line)
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC 27513
*We are working on being registered as a 501c3 non-profit organization.