It’s been a week since returning home from our church’s youth Winter Camp. I notice I always miss the worship experience of our camp settings after we return to the “normal” rhythm of Sundays. There is something so powerful during those extended away times together that I wish I could bottle up and pour all over our group when we gather for services.
One of my favorite books is Praise Habit, written by David Crowder. He discusses how we inherently know how to praise. As kids we easily talk about our favorite things—often screaming to our parents “Look how cool this is!” knowing they will join our excitement and adoration. Then Crowder says later in life we “praise pizza and football players.” We have no problem giving ourselves fully to whatever has a hold of us when we’re young. But as we grow into adolescence and adulthood we seem to become more self-conscious.
I’ve probably read Praise Habit about 4 or 5 times over the last several years. There is something Crowder says that has remained firmly lodged in my heart:
“Somewhere along the way we abandoned abandon… Expression with childlike spontaneity has become difficult. It bares too much of us.”
The idea that as worshippers we have “abandoned abandon” is so profound and powerful to me. It conjures up images of King David dancing in front of the ark in his underwear claiming he’d become even more undignified in praising God than his current state of half-nakedness was showing him to be. It’s that kind of abandon we’ve abandoned.
We have forgotten what it’s like to be so free and excited about something that we scream at the top of our lungs, “MOM! Come look at what I just did with my (fill in the blank with your favorite toy)!!!” And we won’t stop screaming until she walks down a flight of stairs, through the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the living room and says in agreement, “Whoa! Cool! That is great!”
The last night of our Winter Camp we were singing “Alive” by Hillsong Young & Free. Our students were jumping up and down, singing as loud as they could, “You are alive in us, nothing can take your place! You are all we need, your love has set us free!” About 75 of them climbed on stage with the band and the whole place was going crazy for Jesus. Tears welled up in my eyes as I witnessed it from the back (running sound). These students love God. They recklessly abandoned to Him making “fools” of themselves in praise and adoration to their Creator, and they would become even more undignified than this.
Camp is where I most often get see people abandoned to the Lord. We don’t stop screaming until God comes down and sees what all the yelling is about. And when he does his presence is palpable. He responds to the abandonment of self.
My prayer for myself, the students I serve, and the Church (big “c”), is that when we return to “normal” from a camp, a retreat, or conference, our abandon to God wouldn’t be abandoned. I pray we recall the experience we had with God when away from our routines and the presence and power we felt when we cried out to him unashamed. Let us bring that back with us to our “normal” and recklessly pursue Jesus —ever willing to be even more undignified in our praise to him.