It was 4:30 in the morning and the fire was down to small embers, crackling in the night. I was surrounded by the bizarre mix of beautiful birds singing and sheep baah-ing, mixed in with the repetition of snoring. The strangest part was the beauty that came from this sound. A sound that reflected the beautiful picture of community that was being built in that camp.
As Soulfire, we took 13 of our lads away.
All with different backgrounds,
and marched them six and a half miles to a campsite. Along the way, we paused for thought and were challenged about our reliance on tech, our obsession with being inside and lack of engagement with our world. The best part about this is that some of this teaching came from them! They left all of their phones at home and enjoyed the journey.
One highlight was sitting on the top of the Trundle as one of our young people read notes on his phone then threw it to the side to say “this does not fill the void, only God fills the void!”
So they walked, they prayed for each other and they looked up, finding God in their community together and finding God in the nature all around. As part of it all, they ran around, laughed, occasionally yelled at each other and then beautifully came and all laid down together to sleep by the fire, under the starts, outside the tent.
There’s a beautiful story in the Bible, in Genesis, where God comes to Abraham and says “come out from under the tent, come outside!” And it’s then that he shows Abraham the stars and reveals that he will be the father of millions; but to hear that promise Abraham had to come out from the tent.
That night, like Abraham, God led us out of the tent and we found Him in the outdoors together.
There is something about being outside - about nature - about being in God’s creation that reminds us of who God is, of the wonder of his nature and frequently it’s when we are outside, away from it all, that God reveals himself to us.
In our lives we must give ourselves time to be outside, to engage with the God who isn’t just the buzz feeling in a guitar shredding worship service, but is the God who brings peace and rest when we sit in the outdoors and breathe Him in.
When did you last go outside, and just rest, listen and pause? Many of us had the joy of community this weekend at our Summer Celebration, away from everything.
Let’s not forget, in this beautiful weather, to take more of that time, as we enter the season of holidays, of kids at home...take some moments, maybe God is saying to you “it’s time to come out the tent.