I have had some wonderful thoughts fill my head of late. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis remains my favorite fiction series. I enjoy something new each time I read through them. And as crazy as the title may sound, I find many similarities to New Life Camp and Narnia. Sadly, the animals here do not talk - imagine the stories they could share! But there are enough things alike to make my head spin in the wonder of it all.
It's another world - the land of Narnia is incredibly different from our world. Some like Eustace can't understand it at first and perhaps can't abide. But the air of Narnia does a wonder to those who inhabit it. It gives them strength and vigor, a courage they had never known before. Outside, the world of Raleigh, NC is buzzing. The traffic pours through the streets of Falls of Neuse and Durant. A water treatment plant, shopping center, and hospital have replaced what was once a very wooded landscape. Then, you turn on to the dirt road. As many have told me, the noise dies away to a low rumble if one at all. The trees surround and shade the path leading you into a land tucked away from all the busyness, all the standard way of living. You can feel it - you're on holy ground. You're in a hallowed place. This place is special, and it makes you come alive.
There is always grand adventure - the land of Narnia was never an escape for the Pevensies and others who would come. There was always adventure. There was work to be done. There were hard choices to make. There was even the danger of death in battle. New Life Camp shares those virtues. There is always adventures to be had. It may be seeing the progress of a small group of boys in Upward Basketball pick up skills they did not have. It may be sharing the truths of God's Word with Storm players who desire to grow. It may be challenging seniors at a retreat. It may be guiding hearts at the end of a campfire. There are battles to be fought. Our enemy is always planting new traps to destroy this beautiful place, whether it be in slowing our plans or even tempting our hearts to sin. But as I have written earlier, the adventures here go far beyond any that exist outside the gates.
Here, people reign as kings and queens - something I have always loved about the Narnia stories is that the people who were called to Narnia were normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill kids in our world. But in Narnia, they were something more. They were knights and maidens. They were kings and queens - not the ones who ruled with an iron fist, but ones who served their subjects and were loved by them. They wore their crowns with honor and courage in the face of certain evil. Our summer staff fits that mold. These young men and women bravely answer the call to come to New Life Camp and find that here, they are leaders. They work in unison together with honor and courage to show all who are here the amazing wonder of God's love. They are kings and queens - not the ones who are bossy with their campers. They are the ones who serve them with all their hearts, hearts that have more dignity and bravery than many of the actual monarchs of our world. They go to war in prayer, swinging the mighty blade of the Word of God, leading their campers to victory through Christ.
Sadly, their time here is brief - the children who came to accomplish their task in Narnia stayed for what always seemed too short a time. Some reached the point in their lives when they were too old to come back. How true that is for our beloved summer staffs! Year after year, they hear the call of God to serve, and they come. Our hearts are as warmed by their presence as the summer heat. But all too soon, their mission is complete. They have to return to their own worlds. Some leave, never to return to summer staff or New Life Camp at all. They have become "too old." Our hearts are broken by their absence.
New Life Camp will meet its end - Narnia was eventually destroyed by fire, water, and cold. The door was closed to that wonderful land, only to expose a greater, more glorious land in the mountains of Aslan than one could ever dream imaginable. One day, New Life Camp will be burned and destroyed, a thing of earth that is only temporary. It is simply a shadow of something more pure, more brilliant, and more dazzling. It is God's country - the new heaven and the new earth. And just as all the sages of all the ages of Narnia were found in Aslan's country, there is a day when the children and staff who know Christ as Savior will be gathered in His holy city. We will be blown away by the scope of it. We will run through its fields and mansions and never grow weary. Throughout eternity, we will go further up and further in.
Behind it all, there is a Lion - Aslan, the great lion, who created the land of Narnia and all its inhabitants, rules in their hearts. His song melts the snow and makes the stars dance. His breath revives the stony hearts and restores their beat. His call beckons the adventurers from afar, and they are drawn magically to this beloved place. His roar shakes the mountains and the trees, and all who hear it tremble. His heart aches for the pain of those who are near and laughs mightily with joy in their triumph and courage. The Lion of Judah reigns at New Life Camp. All is done to His honor and glory. And by the Lion's mane, we will continue to pursue whatever adventure He calls us to. He is not tame, but He is good...so good.
God has truly blessed me with the call to serve at New Life Camp. I hope I may serve Him with all the bravery of Peter the High King and all the humility of Edmund the Just.
P.S. - Just in case the comparison wasn't thorough enough, we have a lamppost by the Falls entrance.