I wade into the frigid Wenatchee water, as the soles of my feet get accustomed to the bumpy rocky ground I tread unlike the soft sand I just stepped across. Making an effort I wade across the stretch of water until I get to Pastor Rory who is completely dry from the waist up. As planned, I unfold the sheet of paper that holds the verse Colossians 2:6-7 and read it aloud. The other campers listen to the first verse of the afternoon as my voice is spread across a megaphone that Miksa holds. They hear my voice crack at the beginning, my breath catch near the end, and the entirety of my favorite verse. I answer “absolutely” and “definitely” to Rory’s questions and am dunked underwater. As I’m submerged underneath, a feeling of absolute peace washes over me. When I emerge to the resounding noise of cheers and claps all I can do is thank God for the calmness He has given me through my whole baptism, ever since finding out I was chosen to go first.
I’m near tears when I finally find Starbucks and spot Alison 30 minutes later than said time. Being late embarrasses me to no end, but it makes no difference that it’s a regular bad habit. Soon, we’re settled in with some coffee and skones to talk about camp next week. I confess how nervous I am to be a leader and work with a co-leader I know nearly nothing about. Alison’s reply calms my fears, immensely, as she explains how I was the first on the list of adult leaders being requested for camp and the school year. Knowing that ministry leaders believe in me is something that would normally sound nerve-wracking to me, but is a source of comfort this time. Little do I expect, the following week brings me one giant story of how I gave up on my overwhelming worries and in turn God used me in every single moment possible. Calming me with the sunrise coming over the blankets of mountains, comforting me through worship in the sun and under the stars, and revealing his glory through conversations with unexpected people, God had a plan for me to be first and be His.
The guitars fade out and the voices quiet down as we finish with “everybody rise and sing”. I turn around timidly, grabbing the dense microphone about to head onto the stage. But I pause as I notice Ross speak into the microphone leading us into the next song. Confused and slightly embarrassed, I put the mike back down on my seat and look over at Maddy who gives me a reassuring smile. As I try to calm my own spirits, the lyrics invade me, “water you turned into wine”. I get lost in the worship and all my senses are at peace in my moment of praise to the Utmost. It’s when this song ends that I repeat the motions I took one song early and follow through with them until I’m on the stage. I don’t really know what I’m doing, except that I’m nervous, and the lights are on me as I make out the silhouettes of familiar figures. The rest is God putting words in me, as I crack a joke about my giraffe shirt and then make a brief instruction for everyone to greet each other as if they’re sharks. After I return the microphone and join everyone in greeting, I am reassured that the welcome went smoothly and sensationally. I only found out this morning, running 5 minutes late, that I’d be the first to speak and kick off the student-led Sunday morning. Yet, in the chaos and the willies, God sent me a second song and a chance to be at peace with myself before the moment he gave me words to shine.
So many moments, in my insecurity, thrown into a position of leadership, God is right there with me. He is Emmanuel, always was and always will be. Sooner or later, I have to realize that it is my role to take the intentional first step, to make the first action, to be the one to start the fire. And in God’s book, when a fire is ignited, it can’t be stopped, it can only spread and bring goodness and truth, destroying lies and past pain.