Time to Change

I feel today that God is calling us to a radically different kind of life. He is calling us to a life that is centered in Him and based on trust in Him, a life that is free of fear. It is different from what the world tells us we should live like but so much better.
God wants more for us, so much more that is better for us. A life of peace, of real joy and happiness is what He has for us, a life where we are happy despite whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether we are rich or poor. One of the reasons for the misery in the world is that we are so out of tune with the life God created us for.
There is so much more happiness in life than the world offers. Big screen TVs with high-definition, gourmet foods, the latest jewelry, CD’s, DVD’s, clothes, the fanciest cars, these things don’t make you happy. Some of you may remember what life was like before we had all these possessions. Some of you may have to rely on the stories of your grandparents. People were happier in the old days, less stressed and less likely to need drugs. There was less hypertension and other stress related illnesses. Now it seems all we do is worry.
When I was a kid we had one TV, one record player and when they came out one tape recorder. If I didn’t like what was on TV, I read a book that I probably got from the library. We had fans, no air conditioning. Our car was so old I remember one summer night people jokingly applauding because it made it up a steep hill. I didn’t have my own room; I shared it with my two brothers. We didn’t have much but we were happier than most families are today.
I remember the summers I volunteered at Camp Andrew Jackson. As a male counselor I was lucky because there was always a shortage of male volunteers. At night if I didn’t sleep in a dorm with twenty or more campers I slept in an attic room with at least eight other men. If any of us slept six hours we were lucky, Most of us put in almost seventy hour work weeks in five days. The heat was intense. One summer the heat index hit one thirty some days. The only air conditioning that worked was in the dining room. Our break room was on the second floor furnished with furniture that people had donated. We had a refrigerator that reminded me of the ones I saw growing up in the fifties. It worked that well too. Every thing was warm so all we had to drink was warm soda or Kool Aid.
Not the best of conditions. We usually had about twenty to twenty-five volunteers, some of whom stayed for seven or eight weeks and came back as long as they could afford to. Why?
No other place in my life did I experience the kind of Christian love that I experienced there. People volunteered because they felt a call by God to come and give of themselves to others. They gave of themselves as much as possible. Most of the campers who came to camp came not for the activities but because of the love they experienced from the staff. The campers came on Monday morning and left on Friday and the volunteers poured all of the love they had into these kids, gave all the individual attention and building up they could. There was an emphasis on praising not criticizing and campers and staff were praised. You gave everything you had for five days, then did the same for the staff at night and on the weekends and then started it all over again on Monday.
You bonded with people more in a week or two than you might bond with your coworkers in a year. You shared prayer with the campers before each meal, bedtime and in Bible Study. On top of that you prayed with the staff before the campers woke up and after they were put to bed, supposedly at 7:30 AM and 10:30 PM. On top of that you prayed together over problems and most of us worshipped together at the Catholic Church on Sunday. We shared prayer books, music, scriptures as we planned the prayers and Bible Studies for the campers and each other. We also share our stories, our dreams and our experience of God. You gave everything you had to give to whoever the Lord brought into your life.
We didn’t always agree but we learned to talk things out and work things out. We worked in groups of four to six volunteers with twenty or more campers. We learned to accept each others weaknesses and recognize each other’s strengths and we were able to blend all of our different strengths together to compensate for our weaknesses. We taught the campers by example, how to love and serve each other, throwing ourselves into cleaning the dorms, bathrooms and showers, and often sharing our own possessions with campers. We didn’t worry about things; we cared about the people who God had given us to love.
The hardest part of those summers was Fridays. On Fridays we said good-bye to the campers and after a couple of weeks we started saying good-bye to the volunteers. You never knew if you’d see them again, some you knew were starting careers and probably wouldn’t come back. Others you might see the next year or a couple of years later. The worst Friday was the last Friday. I hated that day. After seven plus weeks of this I was completely exhausted but always wanted another week.
In a way we are called to live our lives like that, to give all that we can to the people around us, to love them the best we can at the time and to call on God, to pray with each other over problems and to be there for each other. I keep thinking of the quote from Jesus, Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend. Today we think of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the emergency personnel killed on 9/11 and others. But it is more than that. It is all those parents who give all they have for their kids, the teachers who day after day give everything they can to their students, the doctors, nurses, social workers, store employee whoever gives all they have to others and keeps doing it. That is laying down your life, sacrificing your time and effort for others, giving all you have at the time.
The good news is that we don’t have to do this on our own. God is waiting to guide us to provide what we need, to help us. All we have to do is come to Him and trust Him.

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Author: ronquinlan

To me the message is what is important. Feel free to copy and use anything on this blog. Some pieces were originally published by Catholic Lane so please give them credit. I am a charismatic Roman Catholic and former Social Studies teacher in Catholic Schools. Pieces I've written have been published on Catholi Lane, Catholic Exchange and the Women of Grace blog.

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