At Impact, there is a competition for the "spirit stick." In order to win this spirit stick, each camp must come up with a cheer. The cheer should be well-organized, entertaining, and very spirited. For one cheer, my cabin (the Benjis) changed the words to "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele, singing instead, "The scars of His Son remind us of love. They keep us thinking that Jesus paid it all... Jesus paid it alllll, died for you and meeee. He holds my heart and soul in His hands..." Another time we changed the words to "Colors of the Wind" by Pocahontas.
Every camp becomes pretty involved in these cheers and we got to watch a lot of clever acts. After the third day, our counselors took us aside and apologized. We were all spending too much time trying to think of the best cheer when we should have been spending valuable time fellowshipping together and diving into God's Word. Their words were so true and such a reminder of what a spirit-filled place Impact is.
So we stopped trying. We only had one cheer left for the fourth day and we didn't plan for it at all.
Right before we left for the assembly, someone said, "Oh, yeah. We don't even have anything. What should we do?" and someone shouted a song. The entire process took less than two minutes. No practice, no planning. We didn't expect to win and we didn't care. Spending Jesus-time with each other seemed so much more important than silly cheers.
We gathered together with all of the other camps and listened to all of the cheers. They were all so funny and entertaining. It was such a joy to see the smiles on everyone's faces. When it came time for our turn, we stood up and sang together:
"Jesus loves the little Benjis. All the Benjis of the world. Yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow. Jesus loves the little Benjis of the world."After we were finished, the judges deliberated together. In a matter of seconds, they stood up and said, "The winner of the spirit stick is...... the Benjis!"
That was... us.
We stood and cheered and hugged each other like every cabin had, but surprise lit up all of our faces. What on earth? The one cheer we hadn't discussed or practiced won? It was such a good feeling to know that even though we decided to put the Lord first, we didn't have to fail at everything else.
Winning the spirit stick wasn't a huge deal to us, not anymore, but on the last day of camp, it was like icing on the cake. It brought smiles to all of our faces. It was such a great feeling.
This experience was such a camp thing, I know. Spirit sticks, cheering competitions, Benjians... However, that day reminded me of real life. Sometimes it can seem like giving up when you decide to put Christ over everything else. Giving up a job you wanted or setting aside more time in God's Word instead of putting time into something you enjoy or want to do.
Putting the Lord first is NEVER failure. While God should always get the glory, He will never leave us in the dust. His plan is so much greater and more wonderful than any good thing we could ever plan for ourselves. God wants great things for us. He wants us to put Him first and while life won't always be easy, He will ultimately bring so much joy to our lives if we follow Him.
And you know, even if we had not won the spirit stick, I don't think it would have dampened our spirits whatsoever. Changing priorities can sting in the moment. It can be tough to give up something special to your heart. But once those priorities are changed, you realize what actually matters.
In life, putting God first will always bring more joy and fulfillment than anything else ever will.