Bearing Fruit…from the background
For the past ten summers, I have had the joy of ministering at Lake Ann Camp, almost entirely from inside the dining hall, working elbow-to-elbow, primarily, with a teenage staff to take care of one of our campers’ most basic needs…Food. We have always seen our job as more than filling bellies, though. Our task has been to “Serve God, and each camper He sends our way, with willing hands, positive attitudes, and ready smiles.” In other words, to show God’s love and grace through delicious food and cheerful service. Allow me to share a little more about bearing fruit from the background with you.
Serving three meals a day, day in and day out obviously takes a lot of hard, hot work!There is no way around it. Each year, since 2004, God has provided an amazing crew of young people who were willing to sacrifice a summer of fun-in-the-sun for long days in the dish-pit, or the serving line, or over the grill. It has been my privilege and joy not only to serve with them but also to watch God use the life-lessons they have learned by serving in the background to mold them into men and women ready to serve Him with their lives. Bearing fruit.
A couple of those life-lessons we have learned are:
Our strength and ability are not enough
Relying on our own strength will leave us burned-out and crabby! Burned-out and crabby people are just not able to show God’s amazing love and grace to the people around them. The Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control) can only be seen in a life hid in Jesus. Relying fully on His finished work allows us to be molded into the fruit-bearing servants He designed us to be. But trying harder and striving more will not produce real fruit. Trying harder will only produce a fruit-flavored, not-quite-right imitation of the real thing. Juicy, life-giving fruit bursts out of a life with roots that is deeply connected to Jesus, the only source of life.
Serving for man’s praise will leave you empty
We serve God…first. Although we are very encouraged by the campers’ notes like:
“The bacon is awesome.”
“Thank you for the biscuits and gravy.”
“Your food is amazing.”
These “love notes” are great, but are not enough to keep us going full steam. And they are not enough to orient our lives around. They are not the real treasure. Our service is actually an act of worship, and the genuine treasure is intimacy with Jesus. So we can worship while washing dishes? Or emptying “Mr. Squishy” (the trash compactor)? Or mopping? Or rolling cinnamon rolls? Absolutely…If our service springs from our love for the only One who is worth serving.
“…if anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)
Serving God…one hungry camper at a time
Brent Swensen “Chefy”, Director of Food Services
To learn more about Lake Ann Camp, visit our website at www.lakeanncamp.com.