What was I supposed to do?
I had wandered from the other campers during the wild chaos of the night game, and now I was lost in the dark and eerie woods. I now faced a choice: keep wandering and hope to find some person, or stay here, wait until the fireworks went off in the sky, signaling the end of the game, and wait for somebody to notice I was missing and come to get me. Both options sounded… unappealing at best. For all I knew, I could be wandering around this area until morning. I shuddered, then took a deep breath, working hard to stay calm.
I could do nothing about this if I just waited here. But if I kept walking, I might find someone who could help me find my way back. So, I turned around and began to try my best to retrace my footsteps. My panic slowly subsided. I realized I had been walking in circles. I tried to make my path as straight as possible, and common sense came back to me. I was still walking on trails, so this had to be camp property. The fact that I hadn’t heard voices for a while simply meant that I had wandered farther out than anyone else had.
As I paced through the trees, uninterrupted by human voices or any distractions, I had a long time to think. I thought through the first three days of camp, about how reluctant I’d been to come on Sunday. I had been nervous that I wouldn’t be accepted with a group of girls I didn’t know. How wrong I’d been! I had pushed myself and done the high ropes on Monday, but I never would’ve been able to do that without the encouragement of the rest of my cabin. On Tuesday, I’d done the mud pit, something I could never have seen myself doing. But Tuesday had been my favorite day of the week so far for a very specific reason. All the other activities had been fun, but chapel on Tuesday had been the most meaningful part of my week. It was a message I’d needed to hear. What would my friends at home think if they saw me now? A person who had always been afraid of heights had done the high ropes. Someone who never liked to get dirty had run head-on into the mud pit. But more importantly than that, I had learned so much about both myself and God.
I stopped, suddenly convicted. I knew that I had been saved since I was little. But for the past several years, how had I lived out my faith? At home, in the midst of a Christian family, it was easy to act like a Christian. But at school, around my friends, I certainly didn’t talk about Christ. I had always thought that I was fine, because I wasn’t as bad as some people. But deep down inside, I knew that meant nothing. I needed to live in a way to show that I was a Christian. I needed to love, like Jesus would. I needed to be joyful, like Jesus would be. I needed to show kindness, like Jesus would. I needed to be gracious, like Jesus would be.
I stopped right where I was. This was where it started. Alone, deep in the heart of the dark woods, I made a decision to have a passion for Christ like I never had before, wherever I was, all the time, no matter what. I would live like Jesus would.
The subtle sound of voices interrupted my thoughts, but I never quite forgot that night in the woods.
I followed the noise until I was positive that people were nearby. Whether they were humans or aliens, I didn’t care.
Someone stepped out from behind a tree right in front of me, taking me by surprise. I slapped a hand over my mouth the stifle a scream. When I took a closer look, I realized that it was Mia. I was so happy I began to laugh, unable to stop. Mia and I walked through the woods, though I made sure I was within range of other human beings, and I told her what had happened. I also told her about my new resolutions for when I returned home. She then recounted her story of several narrow escapes from the aliens. I had never heard Mia talk so much around me until now.
At last, the red fireworks went off in the sky, and we flocked to the spot where we’d all met earlier.
We walked back to our cabins, and finally, I was able to take my shower and plop into my bed. My eyelids fluttered twice, then I was already asleep.
Thursday went by in a blur. Before I knew it, chapel was already over. It was dark outside, and now, every camper sat with their cabins in front of a large bonfire. Tonight was meant to be a time of reflection, to talk about what we had learned this week and how we had grown. Campers were allowed to go up front and share their testimonies about this week. When this was announced, Joy was quick to go up. The rest of my cabin watched hesitantly as people lined up, eager to share.
I bit my lip. If I did go up, I didn’t even know what I would say. But as I thought through the week, I thought of all the things I’d learned. I had learned to conquer fear, trust God, encourage others, have a positive attitude in every situation. Most importantly, I had renewed my passion for God. I had lots of things to share. So, as the line shrank and shrank until only a few people were left who wanted to speak, I made my way to the back of the line. I was nervous. Public speaking was not my thing. But when I finished what I meant to say and joined my cabin, I felt content and satisfied. As we walked back to Sassafras, I my contentedness lessened my dread of leaving camp. This was the last night. But I couldn’t forget how thankful I was that I’d come. I had been changed during the course of this week. There was just one question that nagged at me constantly, and I couldn’t quite get it out of my head.
What if I forgot everything I’d learned and went back to living the way I had before?