i had the immense blessing at working at a Christian camp for ten summers. well, pretty much ten summers. the last two weren't full summers because i was huge and pregnant for summer #9..and i do mean huge! :) and then a new mommy summer #10 and mainly just helped out a bit here and there as i could. (and since i never, ever, ever, ever...ever, ever exaggerate, ever. :)) i don't want to mislead....but, for the better part of ten summers i was devoted and in LOVE with working at camp. there is no way to fully know how amazingly God impacted my life, my future...and, well....my everything though that place, those people, those experiences...all of it. i got engaged to my sweet man there for goodness sake. :) and, for those of you wonderful people (family) who worked at camp el har with me, you know exactly what the title of this post means. you know it, because, if you were an overnight camp counselor, it was the absolute highlight of your day...you longed for it more than you longed for a cool drink of "coke, mr.pib, sprite or orange" :) in the 106 degree heat of the endless summer camp days....more than the small bits of shade of the snack shack times while the kids played carpet-ball in between loooong walks between activities.....more than dressing up for wacky wednesday and blacking out your teeth with a sharpie....oh wait, i think that was just me! :)
for the rest of you unfortunate souls who didn't work there :) let me explain....
f.o.b. was a scheduled time during every camp day (for the overnight campers) where the campers and counselors would go into the cabins and take a set amount of time to calm down in a horizontal position, in hopes that said children's eyes would close, breathing would slow to a steady calm, and noise would cease, if ever so briefly. they didn't dare call it "nap" time because these kids were waaaay too big to take naps and would have revolted by tying the counselors together with their dirty socks and making them listen to hours upon hours of the ever-so-annoying song "i know a song that gets on the counselor's nerves, i know a song that gets on the counselor's nerves, i know a song that gets on the counselor's nerves, and this is how it goes...verse 1....i know a song that gets on the counselor's nerves, i know a song...."
now, f.o.b. was crucial, not only for the survival of the campers to make it through the jam-packed, fun-filled, heat-stroked week of camp...but also for the counselors to make it through the mosquito-packed, noise-filled, heat-stroked week after week after week after week of summer. it was by far the counselor's favorite part of the day. they depended on it. they longed for it. they led their campers into the cabins, took just enough time to make sure they were all there and in the bunks and then whether or not the campers slept, they were snoring and drooling themselves before you could hum one bar of "kum-bay-yah, my Lord". it was crucial for their survival. without it, they wouldn't make it. it was f.o.b. and what did it stand for? Flat On Back.
well, it has been five years since i have worked at camp. weird to think about, but true. but, one thing is for sure...this last year, i have personally had an extra dose of f.o.b. time....and then some.
someone very dear to me, who loves Jesus so much it just oozes from her and whom i love and respect greatly, mentioned to me that i must have a very unique view of God from all this time i have had to spend flat on my back. whoa. that really got me thinking. and of course, inspired this post. as soon as i read what she wrote...the phrase "flat on my back" made me think of camp...and of course i couldn't help but be flooded with years of memories and smiles and joy upon joy. but then i really started thinking about being f.o.b. all this time. i sure haven't looked at it like the counselors did back in the day.
have i resisted it too much?
have i learned enough from it?
have i looked up enough?
you would think i would have no choice...but to look up. but oh, you'd be wrong. even flat on your back, with your face upward, you can choose to look left or right, or to flat close your eyes if you dare.
lately, i must admit, i have had a phrase running around in my head....about those ol' Israelites...you ready for it??
forty years for an eleven day journey.
forty years for an eleven day journey.
please God, i DO NOT want to take forty years for this eleven day journey.
being f.o.b. allows for a lot of time to question a lot of things...
why is God doing this to me?
is God doing this to me?
or is He doing something through me?
when will He allow it to be done?
what can i do to speed this along?
what have i done wrong to slow this thing down?
for goodness sake, why still?
the good news for me is, at least now....that i have blissfully gotten to the point in my faith that i do not need answers to all of these questions anymore. trust me, it took a looooooong time to get here. i still might, in the middle of the night, when i am lying here in pain....again....cry out with one of these questions....again....but i believe that there is a difference between occasionally needing to ask Him one, and feeling entitled for Him to answer them.
thinking back, i have literally spent the better part of the last 11 months f.o.b.
that is roughly 300 days that i have spent the better part of the day with the opportunity to look up. this is, of course, an estimation, because there were quite a few days that i only had to spend a few hours f.o.b. to rest, but then there were entire weeks and weeks at a time where i had to spend the entire day that way, because the pain was so bad. but always, with the opportunity to look up.
did i always? no. did i sometimes? absolutely. did i do it sometimes with frustrated tears in my eyes and a selfish or self-righteous heart? absolutely. did i do it sometimes with hands held high praising and thanking Him to a favorite worship song? sure.
regardless, i have been f.o.b. for a while now. and to be honest, i do not know how much longer He'll allow me to be this way. i have discovered that it is a whole lot easier to praise God when you are getting what you want, than it is to praise Him when you are seeing others live out the life you want, while you are, in fact...well, left f.o.b.
and i will be totally honest with you...listen up, cause this is for real....these last couple weeks in the hospital, when i have literally been f.o.b. all day every day, except for the quick trip to the potty (and some days i wasn't even able to get up for that....don't even get me started on the humility of the bed pan!!! :)) these days were leading me to a dark, sad, and hopeless place....a place where the enemy of my soul wanted to take me and keep me.
it wasn't until some dear friends spoke Truth back into my heart, splashed some cold water (John 4:10-15) on my face and slapped me around a bit (in the name of Jesus!:) that i realized that even in huge amounts of pain, with no clear answers in sight...in a stinkin' hospital bed...i could still be cheerful. i could still be thankful. i could still be positive. i could still find reason to believe that i would be ok. God was using this for His glory, whether i was enjoying my f.o.b. time or not.
ya see....those campers didn't always know it....but they really couldn't have made it through the whole week of camp without that f.o.b. time. their little bodies wouldn't have made it. ya know why? because we had soooo many amazing things planned for them that they weren't used to. they weren't used to spending half a day in the hot sun at the lake and then the other half in the hot sun riding horses, shooting bows and arrows, climbing ropes courses, playing games, etc. if they didn't nap....er, excuse me...have f.o.b. time, they would have been waaay too exhausted, and missed out on all the great things we had in store for them. you know where i'm going with this.....
this is where i'm at. i am choosing to take God at his Word. and i encourage you to do the same. maybe you aren't literally flat on your back. and if you aren't, i encourage you to take a few minutes and thank Him for that. but, maybe you are. and i am sorry for that. but, i am right here with you. i'm doing my leg and arm exercises so that i can rebuild what all these days f.o.b. have cost my wimpy little muscles. but, maybe you just feel like you are f.o.b. either emotionally or spiritually...maybe with your job, or your spouse, or your purpose in life. i don't know. but i know Who does know. and i guarantee that NONE of your time f.o.b., or feeling that way is wasted. not one tear. not one moment. Our God is a God who redeems. i am believing Him that i will be better. not in my timing of course (bummer!:) but in His. i just gotta hold on. yes, easier said than done. trust me, waaaay easier said that done. but it can be done.
He has a plan, friend. and it is a good one. maybe this f.o.b. is exactly what you and i need to get ready for what He's got coming. maybe He's really got to knock some more sense into me. (not you i'm sure...you are surely far less stubborn and far more obedient and faithful than me...but i know me) so, i'm taking Him at His Word and trusting for the good that is to come. will i be this strong every day...no. but that is why it is crucial to surround yourselves with other believes who can support you during this time. God knows my closest friends and family flat out have carpet burns on their knees thanks to me. and i couldn't be more humbly grateful. (sorry guys, it ain't over, yet!!) but, i think it is important that we trust Him and thank Him now, while we are f.o.b.....that takes true strength, friend. stand alongside me. well....nevermind...lie alongside me....let's be f.o.b. together. :)
jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
psalm 103:2-4 "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion"
1 peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."