If you happen to drop by Camp Maranatha when our summer season is in full swing, you might wonder. Campers laughing and splashing one another with diving board cannonballs, an energetic game of capture the flag, the clang, clang, clang of the dinner bell, silly campfire songs that might possibly rank volume as more valuable than content.
Really? This is a place of peace?
Perhaps, you imagine sitting under the pine trees atop a lone boulder, Bible on your lap, a soft mountain breeze tangling your hair?
Don’t worry. These moments do come, too. Even our rowdiest kids get a chance to sit quietly and ponder God and His beautiful creation.
But the kind of peace we’re talking about is not found exclusively in the quiet. Now, celebrating 65 years, Camp Maranatha has been designated as “A Place of Peace Where God Changes Lives” for quite some time. And, yes, there is something about pine-scented mountain air, majestic views and encounters with wildlife that bring a sense of peace. But camp can also be a place of waiting in line for food, sloppy roommates, chapped lips and mosquito bites—things not usually associated with the idea of peace.
The peace God gives is not destroyed by trial and tribulation, let alone a few annoying insects or the happy noises of youthful exuberance. In John 14:27, Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
So how does this peace Jesus gives differ from that which the world gives? One important difference we see at camp is that it’s the setting for changed lives. Lives changed by God. We see this change even in small, perhaps, temporary ways. In the course of a week, the resentful learn to forgive, the fearful learn to hope, the unloving are transformed by unconditional Love. We get glimpses of these things during a stay at camp. But they are only glimpses.
Changed lives are a process. And it may be that reflecting on both the quiet peace and the noisy peace at Camp Maranatha teaches us something that the kind of peace the world gives could never do. The world’s kind is all about stopping and "No!" No war. No yelling. Stop doing or saying anything that might cause disagreement or conflict.
The Prince of Peace tells us not just to stop, but also to go. This can be the hard “go” of working to forgive someone who has given you a lifetime of hurt. Or the “go” of making new friends when the old friends are still stuck in habits that once held you captive.
It could even be the kind of
“go” that sent Abraham out
to a new land when he
“went out not knowing where he was going.”
(see Hebrews 11:8)
...or the “go” that pointed Jonah to tell the good news to some scary people. This kind of change may take some time and it may not feel peaceful. But refusing the “go” of peace may not be all that easy or comfortable either. Just ask Jonah!
The point is simply this — true peace, whether at Camp Maranatha or at school, work or home can really only be found in God. We’d love to have you come to camp and enjoy our tall pines against blue skies. We’d love for you to come here to experience the changes in your life that only God can bring. And please do! Just remember, even on the days and weeks when you can’t get away to a quiet place (or a noisy place) like camp, you can still experience the peace that passes understanding. No matter where you are, you can choose peace by trusting in the One who made Camp Maranatha a place of peace in the first place.