Camp is a place of change and growth. Getting outside normal routines and outside into nature creates a prime setting for these opportunities. Getting into God’s Word through study, meditation, and prayer while in such a setting encourages us to experience God’s work in our lives. Time away from home, out in God's creation, being challenged by God’s Truth, is what makes a camp or retreat experience so powerful.
Rock Mountain exists to create those opportunities, but God has called people to follow Him in the out-of-doors, away from home, and out of normal comforts for thousands of years. There are numerous biblical examples: Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David, Samuel, Joshua, Saul/Paul.... (to name a few). Also, there are many people though church history. One such person was Patrick.
Patrick, a Roman citizen, was born on the island of Britain in the early 4th century. He was abducted by Irish pirates when he was 16 years old, and sold into slavery on the island of Ireland. For 4 years he was a slave who tended sheep in the Irish countryside all year round. It was in that place, far from home and immersed in nature, that Patrick was drawn close to God. In his writings, he said of that experience:
"The love of God and His fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same."
Even though he was a slave, held against his will, he reflected upon the way God used that time in his life:
"I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."
Eventually, Patrick escaped Ireland and made it back home. After many years, he was ordained into fulltime ministry. He followed God's call for him to return to Ireland, the place of his captivity, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through many more dangerous experiences, Patrick was able to lead many pagan native people to Jesus! Over the years that followed, Patrick led a faithful ministry in spite of opposition from the pagan tribes of the island, and fellow Christians back home. Thousands of people turned to Christ as a result of Patrick's courageous commitment to Christ, and his fearless heart for the Irish people. So impactful was his ministry, that he is remembered now as "Saint Patrick" the 'founder' of Christianity in Ireland.
We have a day set aside to celebrate his memory, St. Patrick's Day. Sadly, most people know nothing about the man who was compelled by his deep devotion to the Savior to see Jesus exalted among the nations. We should celebrate Patrick’s memory by reflecting on times outside of our comforts of home, outside in nature, that God has used to build up our faith in Him. So that we can echo the words of a man who was fully devoted to His Savior:
"Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me."
~from 'The Breastplate of St. Patrick'