When I sit down to write a camp update, my tendency is to seek flowery metaphors (metaphors like flowers, you see) to describe what camp is all about. 

If you’ve sat in on a pre-camp training session, you know this already. “I’m like a Grizzly bear in a Salmon Stream, with all these metaphors,” I might say. At various times, I have compared Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp to:

  • Gondor
  • The Great Divide
  • "No Name Brand"
  • A Storehouse for Treasure
  • Your Crush's Instagram Account
  • An Ecotone
  • Rock Climbing
  • A Threshold
  • LPNs/RNs/MDs/Specialist Surgeons
  • A Door

Stories, parables, and metaphors are like a Bacon-wrapped Brussel Sprout (do they make those? They should) - you get the lesson almost by accident, even if you don’t want to.

For weeks, I’ve had a metaphor chambered for this month’s Newsletter. That’s what happens when you’re thinking about water every day.

It has always been easy to find water at Crow. We have - for decades! - drawn water from a well that someone dug with a shovel. That old well is really more like a glorified hole. It’s only a few metres deep, but if you dig anywhere at Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp, you’ll see water start bubbling up. So much water! Crow is a place where water springs up, abundant and becomes a source of beautiful freedom and peace, knowing that we won’t go thirsty.

Water is so plentiful that it is easy to become complacent. But we’ve learned, (the hard way: from the government) that water so close to the surface is prone to the influence of whatever is going on immediately above it. GWUDI, they call it. Ground water under direct Influence.

The beauty of a metaphor is that you don’t need to unpack it (note that “unpack” is a metaphor also) but I don’t want to leave you entirely lonely (‘nother metaphor). So here’s another couple of water metaphors, to help you with the first water metaphor.

"Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 

July 2019 has been deeply encouraging. We’ve seen so many kids come to camp… looking for an Unknown God that they do not know but know they need, being introduced to Jesus, and choosing Jesus’ way. We’ve called home to inquire about baptisms, and we’ve prayed with kids making first promises to God… It has been a reminder of the living water that springs up here and overflows.

But I have to also tell the truth, with sadness, about long-time camp friends, potential volunteers who tell us, when we try to recruit them… “I don’t believe anymore. I can’t come because I am not among you; my treasure and my heart are elsewhere.” These calls drag against me, these calls with people who I still love, with whom I cannot share the most important part of my life. It reminds me that even here, where the water seems sure never to run out, and always to satisfy… we must guard against the surface influences that seek to make this living water undrinkable.

Before each camp, as I work my way through the training sessions, and share all my metaphors for how camp works, and why… I read the mission statement. I don’t know who wrote it, or when. It is - as is fitting for a mission statement - a little bit unwieldy. It’s like a sleeping bag packed by a junior camper, overflowing with just a few too many clauses. You can read it here if you’d like.

What gets me is the commitment to evangelism & discipleship. At Crow, we believe that everyone should walk as Jesus did (I John 2:5), but there are two distinct phases in that mission. First a call, and then a transition into a new way of being. First the invitation to become an apprentice to Jesus (evangelism), and then learning to do what Jesus did (discipleship).

I am so proud of our staff this summer, so proud to count myself among them, and so pleased to share this camp community with them. They are fun, and smart, and kind. They believe, profoundly, in Jesus - in his wisdom, his love, his way. They are, in just the ways you would expect (and as Jesus is) deeply attractive. Love flows through them, like a spring, or an oasis in a dry and weary land where there is no water. You’d be so proud of them. 

It reminds me of the water that has flowed here for generations, that was always susceptible to superficiality and surface influences. Some of these who I love so well right now will call me in six weeks, or six months, or six years, and they will tell me that they cannot be counted among the people of God anymore. On a beautiful day of sunshine in the Crowsnest Pass, this story is a metaphor of thick black storm blowing down the valley. It scares me, saddens me, and reminds me that the mission is evangelism and discipleship - invitation and guidance - and there is still work to do. 

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Aug 1, 2019 By David Graham