This is day 28 of 31 Days of Songs and Stories. For an index of all the posts in the series, click here.
Over the years I have been involved in several camps for young people, and I’m sure it will be no surprise to hear that one of my favourite ones to be involved in is Music Camp. We work with a group of young people for a week enjoying games and activities, doing Bible teaching and also practising music, working towards a concert at the end of the week.
A tradition at Music Camp is that each year a worship song is chosen and every night, just before bed time, everyone gathers together and sings it. It is a beautiful way to round off the day, and from that point on the song is associated in everyone’s minds with that particular camp.
The 2015 camp is one of the biggest leadership challenges I have ever faced. Various factors combined to make the preparation for camp incredibly complicated and stressful. At one point there was a question over whether it could go ahead at all.
During the week of camp itself, while it went well, there were many more challenges to be faced- dealing with a huge range of conflicting desires and opinions, as well as balancing people’s wildly different expectations. There was also some understandable disappointment to deal with over unavoidable circumstances. It was good and it was rewarding and I’m glad I took it on- I certainly learned a lot and grew a lot- but it was also so, so difficult.
“Unbroken Praise” was the song we had chosen to sing at the end of the day and, if I’m honest, each night as we sang it there was an element of relief: we had made it through another day. But, on a more positive note, it also helped me to refocus on why we were doing it- that it was about praising God, not just with our songs but with our lives, that it was about surrendering to him and it was for his glory, and that all credit for the fact that it had come together at all went to God and certainly not to me.
At the end of camp concert, we sang it as our final piece. Most of the concert had been for full orchestra, but this was stripped back- just a single guitar and voices, with improvised harmonies. It was beautiful, and as we sang it at the concert, I realised this was really the end. We had made it through- not just another day, but through the camp. At one point there had been doubts over whether it could go ahead at all, but the task had been completed, and all the praise went to God!
When I listen to this song now, it is one that triggers deep emotions. It’s not all pleasant. It reminds me of the challenges and of just how difficult things were at times, but it also reminds me of God’s faithfulness and that he is in control. No matter what challenges we face, he can make a way, even when it seems impossible.
“So let my deeds outrun my words
And let my life outweigh my songs
Unbroken praise be Yours, God, forever
All my praise be Yours, God, forever
Lord, take this life
Let it become Your throne
Unbroken praise be Yours”
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