Yesterday, tragedy struck close to home. A large group of highschoolers and youth staff headed down to the Tygh Valley in Oregon on Sunday afternoon. Two of our previous church families participate in this camp every year, and many kids and staffers I have relationships with are there now. While attempting to take a picture behind a waterfall, a young camper, Caleb Justice, and a counselor, Brett McLean, fell into the water. Both were pulled underneath the water, and drowned.
Two young men….Two families who had just sent their sons off to camp…A group of highschoolers prepared for one of the most incredible weeks of the summer. 8 church families in prayer for their youth, anticipating reports of the amazing things that would happen during the week. The camp they are attending is called, “Experience the Valley,” and now, everyone is experiencing just that….the valley.
Throughout our life, we are brought to the mountain-top, and down into the valleys, experiencing both the good and the bad….As I headed to Caleb’s facebook page today, I was floored by what I read in his “About” section, and want to let his words speak to you…
“The Lord has given us all things as-well as trials, without obstacles what would we learn? How could we grow to Mature? Why should we curse God for all that he does for your good? Praise God in all times, in peace and at war, and He will guide and protect you. The purpose of life is to praise God and to make him known. Don’t think it’s all up to you to fix your life. Through God is life. Keep God in all actions, thoughts and mindsets, and you will surely be surrounded in Gods presence.”
I cry as I read this…as the young man who wrote these words is now in the presence of his Heavenly Father. What Caleb knew at just 15, is that God is in control, and brings us to the highest mountain-top times of life, and to the lowest valleys. As the remaining campers are truly “experiencing a valley” right now, going through one of life’s trials, I am confident that God is still at work….and know that He will use Caleb’s life to reach others….and that He is doing this as we speak!
Caleb urged people to praise God in ALL times….even when someone is taken too young….even when life doesn’t make sense….even when you can’t see the end of the tunnel or a way out. Even then. Even now.
Yes, the campers this week didn’t quite get the summer camp experience they bargained for….The events of this week may likely stay with them throughout the course of their life….shaping them…changing the way they think…the way they react to pain….They are walking through the valley right now. Grief. Loss. Heart-ache. Some of you may be experiencing these emotions this week too. My prayer for you is the same of young Caleb…that you will keep God first, trusting in His plan, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Chasing Supermom’s heart and prayers go out to the families of Caleb and Brett, the campers and staff of ETV, and the church families involved.