UpLift was amazing. I got to personally baptize 2 girls in the Fountain (very cool experience), got to watch 5 kids out of my God Time classes be baptized, and got to watch a couple dozen others make the decision to be baptized with Christ over the course of the week.
I taught 3 classes each day and spoke to the kids about the fact that they are not the star of this movie (they are not the focus of this life), that our sole purpose on earth is to point (with our very being) to God.
The last day of class I asked them a simple question: "has it been hard to be a Christian this week - at UpLift camp, on the campus of Harding University?" of course, the resounding answer was 'no'. Why? There's no magic in the Harding campus (although I will say the campus is truly one of the most beautiful I have ever seen), instead, it's easy because we were surrounded by Christians. Everyone around us was like us.
But, I warned them, it was now time to begin our descent. See, we can't live on the mountain top, no matter how much we would like to, eventually, we have to come down. Down to our jobs, our schools, our sports, our hobbies, and, for some of us, our very own homes and families. Valleys. So what do we do? We can be clear of one thing: we can not survive on our own. No one ever claimed this life would be easy. In fact, when asked what one needed to do to be a follower of Jesus, Jesus replied 'pick up that electric chair, strap it to your back, and come on' ("Take up your cross and follow me"). Jesus was being realistic. He was telling us as plainly as He could what we could expect from this life. So we must (must, must must) surround ourselves with other Christians - those who will love us, support us, encourage us, build us up, and understand us for what we are (imperfect sinners, who will continue to make mistakes our entire lives, but are saved by the amazing, unfair, crazy love and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).
I warned them that when they got home, reality, life, the enemy would be waiting to smack them right between the eyes.
My life, in every way, has lived out my sermons for the week - including that last one. Though no one is immune to discouragement, pain, grief, sorrow, or angst, we (as Christians) have hope. A hope that can be found by NO other means than the knowledge that comes from being saved.... no matter how low this world takes us or those around us, we Know how this story ends. So, in the face of pain and adversity, we can have hope.
Rejoice always. Put on the clothes of Love. Pray without ceasing. Have hope. Be a light. Point to God.