This summer I had the privilege of being a counselor at a camp for disabled persons. The counselors and campers enjoyed a week of swimming, horseback riding, fishing, bowling, paddle boats, crafts, Bible lessons, and worship. In the midst of the earthly activities, heavenly insights for healthy relationships with God and others emerged.
I was blessed to be 24/7 with a blind person for the week. During the week, I noticed aspects of a healthy relationship with God. I learned quickly to go at the speed that she could walk at. Adjusting my speed to her reminded me of how God meets us where we are at. He knows our particular needs and tailor-makes interactions with Him (Acts 8:26-38). One of my roles with my camper was to be her protector. I constantly needed to communicate with my camper in order to protect her from dangerous terrain, awkward interactions, and confused communications. As her protector, I was reminded of how God protects believers (Psalm 91:14). Also, the communication with my camper pictured the constant guidance God gives us (Isaiah 30:21, 58:11; Psalm 32:8).
Furthermore, at various times I helped my camper by opening doors, describing things, assembling crafts, calming emotions, and being available. I am grateful that God is our helper throughout life (Isaiah 41:10). Probably, the most significant insight I gained that week was about trust. My blind camper had to trust my character, my judgments, and my decisions. If she had not trusted me, she would have been frustrated all week and missed out on the joys of camp activities and interactions. Similarly, I have to trust God’s character, judgments, and decisions. If I choose to not trust Him, I will miss out on bringing God glory and enjoying Him and the abundant life He has for me (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 10:10).
Beyond insights I learned from my blind camper, I made observations from the camp in general. Everyone at the camp was accepted, valued, honored, and loved (Romans 12:10, 15:7). It did not matter if you could walk, speak, read, think, process, or see. Everyone treated everyone else rightfully as created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139:13-16). Treating each other as images of God leads to honor and love which is how God designed us to live. Along with everyone being accepted, valued, honored, and loved, no one was judged. The only appropriate judge is Jesus and what matters in eternity (James 5:9). Living the truth out that only Jesus has the right to be judge sets up an atmosphere where people feel accepted and valued.
Moreover, the mid-week basketball game demonstrated the ethos of the camp. The campers played a game amongst themselves. In the campers’ game, players made baskets to the wrong goals and ran with the ball. Everyone cheered them on. At one point, a camper finally made a basket after three tries. The amazing thing was that the other team kept giving him the ball so he could keep trying. Everyone celebrated when he made the basket! In contrast, when the counselors played their game, moves were aggressive, balls were stolen, shots were blocked, and points were ultimate. The campers reflected a hint of heaven while the counselors reflected the world.
After a week at the camp, I saw that disabled people have a lot to teach me about relationships with God and others. The insights I gained in that short week gave me a richer perspective on life and healthy relationships. It was a privilege and honor to go to camp with my disabled campers!
Image from Markus Spiske, Unsplash, accessed August 3, 2021, https://unsplash.com/s/photos/basket-ball.