Monday, August 11, 2008

Our Time at Oakbridge #4 - The Big Picture

One last day at the beach before we left sunny California.

This post has been a long time in coming. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it. It’s just that I’ve been looking for the right words to really sum up our time at camp…to really put a finishing touch on all that I wrote about our time at Oakbridge. It was such a great time of learning and of stretching and of being filled that it seems hard to accurately sum up. The best way, I guess, is to talk about some of the big picture, life-altering kind of stuff that I took away from our time.

First, and maybe my most tender blessing, was how I fell even deeper in love with my amazing husband. It is always a gift for me to see Loren living out his passion, and our month at Oakbridge was no different, except maybe in regards to the intensity of it all. He is passionate about teenagers and their walk with Christ. So, as I watched him pour his life out, sacrificing his own wants and needs for theirs, in the name of Christ, it resonated with me in a deep way. I want to live that way. My admiration for Loren deepened with every day and, without being too weird about it, I have decided that watching your husband glorify the Lord with his gifts is about as sexy as it gets.

Secondly, I learned about community and the gift it is to be known. I met some wonderful people and was so encouraged by their experiences and the way that they live life. And it was so good to be with other people who are also immersed in this ministry and to hear their stories. But, at the end of the day, there is nothing quite like being known. I missed those I have come to rely on who know me best and can predict what the expression on my face means, what missing quality time with my husband does to me, and who know when I really need to chat. It is, apparently, a rare thing to have friends in this way, and I couldn’t help but learn what a blessing it is while I was away.

This last one is a bit hard for me to articulate. Initially, I was going to write about how I felt like I had really missed out on some time with the Lord. When we went, I anticipated having a lot of down time, and thus being able to really dig in and be with the Lord in a more intense way than I feel able to in my daily life. It didn’t really work that way. I did have down time (see post #3 in the series), but I felt busier than I expected because I was pretty much solely responsible for taking care of and entertaining the kids. I also tried to be involved in, as much as I could, the work Loren was doing, so that took up a good deal of time, too. So, initially, I beat myself up pretty hard(something I could win my own gold medal in) for not being more focused, more intentional with the Lord.

But now, as I look back on the month, I find it impossible to say that I missed out on God. The fact is that I encountered him each and every day in unique and transforming ways. I did not study his word like I wanted, but I was seeing it lived out every day. I didn’t make enough of an effort to learn more about his character, but I ended up learning anyway about the depths of his love, and his power, and his persistence, and his charm. In fact, I’m glad that I didn’t stay inside too long, studying, while God’s work, his heart, his passion, was happening all around me. Then, I would have really missed out. Don’t get me wrong. I know that his Word is powerful and that studying it is one of the most important things I can do. This is not a fact I have trouble recognizing. What I tend to have trouble with is seeing him at work all around me. I am, too often, unaware of the bigger picture and this month afforded me the opportunity to see the variety of ways that he reveals himself just because he desperately wants us to know him. And, in the end, I would not have missed THAT for the world. I mean, I hope that if Nicole C. Mullen (you know my affection for her, right?) came to my house, that I wouldn’t sit in my room listening to her c.d’s. How much more so with the Lord?!? (Please don’t over analyze this. I understand scripture’s importance…really I do!)

All in all, our assignment was as much a gift as I thought it would be. There is so much more, so many more details that I could share, and would be happy to share with each of you individually, but it is all really just pieces of the bigger picture. And here is the bigger picture. My family experienced the Lord at Oakbridge…through each other, through our fellow partners in ministry, through creation, through the Word that was shared, though the faces of jr. high kids whose lives were changed…and the list could go on and on. And so, for the month of July at Oakbridge in Ramona, CA, to God alone be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Jennille said...

Beautiful! I am so going with you guys next year. I'm so glad to see you back in the blogging mode--and back at home!

Miss Jen said...

Oh Amanda it is so great to have you home, if for no other reason than to write these beautiful entries. I learn something about the Lord everytime I read them.

Melodie said...

i'm so glad it was such a blessing for the whole family. love you!

Amy said...

amen to that, amanda. so thankful for your precious time there and that you are back home safe and sound.

Michelle Schumacher said...

the way you express your love for your husband, girls and the Lord always leaves me feeling so blessed to call you my friend. Your insights are beautiful, and your willingness to share your journey is such a blessing to everyone who reads it, and knows you. Even though I'm not there, I'm glad to know that you are all safely at home!