God's Word for Today

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

With each day that pass there is change, however there are things in life that do not change, traditions that continue on though out the years that hold us together and give us the roots that we cling to.

For 176 years people have gathered for Campmeeting. It happens every year on the third week of July.

I have been participating in this tradition for the past 14 years. For me it is simply one of the most amazing opportunities for worship, fellowship and true communion with God that I have ever experienced. It draws me back year after year.

If you have never experienced a Campmeeting then in my opinion you are truly missing one of the most unique worship experiences available.

In earlier times entire families would pack up all their belongings and trek miles and miles to participate in Campmeeting. It was the middle of the growing season and they did not have to be tending there fields, they would load their wagons with food, blocks of ice, butter churns, wash tubs with their cows tied to the back of the wagons and load there chickens as well and they would set off for Campmeeting.

They would gather together under the arbor, and arbor that they had constructed with an axe and the toil of their sweat. You can still see the hand hewn scars in the ancient beans even today. The saw dust upon the floor fills the air with that sweet and unforgettable fragrance. Each day all would gather for as many as four separate worship service.

They would reconnect with people they had not seen since the previous Campmeeting and they would break bread together and worship together.

I have this visual image of what it must have been like 176 years ago. I can see the wagons tied up behind the cabins and I can see the individual campfires set up with the cast iron pot hanging over them with there evening meal simmering away. I can hear the horses and the cows and the chickens intermixed with the raucous chattering of the children running about. The women in there prairie dresses, sun bonnets and button up shoes and the men in there overhauls and straw hats. The lazy conversations from a rocking chairs, the full and satisfied stomachs after a wonderful meal. The feeling of lying in your bed and drifting off to sleep after a long and pleasant day listening to the crickets and the birds all around you.

Can you see it? Can you feel it?

The arbor is lit with electricity now, not lanterns. The preacher can be heard through a microphone and there are mini vans parked out behind the cabins now.

Many things have changed about Campmeeting, however there is a timelessness that will never change.

The faded and time worn pews still fill twice a day with people desiring to worship, to sing and to reconnect with this timeless tradition.

Generations build upon generations.

The lavish suppers filled to overflowing with abundance still happen every night. The fellowship over deviled eggs, fried chicken, (I am thankful that we can go to KFC and don’t have to slaughter and pluck and then fry the chicken) corn pudding, sliced tomatoes, green beans cooked with ham hock, potato salad, banana pudding and on and on and on. The food is wonderful and the fellowship is even more satisfying.

The children still romp about only now they toss Frisbee’s, they play with bubbles, they ride their bicycles, and squirt water guns, but the essence is still the same. At the end of the day we still sit and fellowship and listen to the crickets and the birds as night settles in.

I don’t have to hauls my ice in a large block from the ice house or break if off with and ice pick. I just have to make a trip up to the gas station, I not do I have to enlist the help of the children to churn the ice cream, I have the luxury of just plugging it in, but the end result is still delicious.

Many things have changed with the passing of time.

Our first Campmeeting my son was five years old and my daughter was just a twinkling start in heaven waiting to be born, she is thirteen now and is now helping serve in the nursery where she used to play herself when she as a toddler.

I look at all the facets of life that have changed since I began this journey with Campmeeting and I see God so clearly.

This year I saw the transition of time more clearly than ever before. This years my son who is now 19 and out on his own was busy with his own life, he did come to one of the evening worship services, but his youthful rebellious priorities have drawn him on to other pursuits.

My daughter has moved on to the youth program and spent the week with her friends. She had a week of fun, worship and forging friendships that will hopefully last for a very long time.

This week I had an ache in my heart for the faithful saints of our church who in there golden years can no longer participate in Campmeeting. I would look to the place where they would usually sit and grieve at the loss of there presence. Their steadfast and timeless faith that has held me up, there soft shoulders that have absorbed my tears on many occasions were not there.

Time became real for me as I saw a dear sweet and faithful saint struggle with her walker for the first time trying to maneuver over the gravel pathway up to the arbor. The spirit is willing but the flesh is at times uncooperative.

To capsulate it, if a thing like this can be encapsulated, it is very much like the old saying “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

There are things about Campmeeting that will never change. I treasure these traditions and the timelessness of Campmeeting. I pray that it will never end and that generation after generation will continue to meet under this historic and holy tabernacle.

I also realize that God in His infinite wisdom has created us to be “but a breath.”, and that things of this life are only a moment.

It seems only yesterday that my daughter was laying her head in her pack and play surrounded by the sawdust and the sounds of the crickets, now I lay my head down all by myself as she talks into the night with her friends.

Campmeeting is over for this year, I wait with great anticipation for next July. It has only been three days and already I miss it, the gathering under the arbor, the traditions, the laughter, the food, the fellowship. the singing, the worship, kneeling in the sawdust and I may even miss the humidity and the mosquitoes just a bit, well maybe not. (I praise Jesus for bug spray and my $2.96 Wal Mart handheld fan)

Campmeeting brings many wonderful things. Each time I place my feet upon that sawdust covered Holy ground God moves in my life.

He spoke to me of His timelessness. He gently showed me that things in my life are changing and He told me to embrace the changes and to seek to learn from this transition all that can be gleaned.

One day, I hope, I will be struggling with my walker over the gravel and my daughter will be setting up her pack and play for her own children, this washes over me with a sweetness that is beyond description.

God is simply too good to describe.

These two verses are so relevant for the experience of this past week for me.

2PE 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

PS 39:5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.

Life is but a breath, but what a wonderful beautiful breath it is!

Praise God!
Copyright © July 2008 R. Lambright


Paula (SweetPea) said...

I have never experienced a campmeeting. It sounds like it is much that of an outdoor revival with outdoor picnicking and fellowship for three nights in a row. I've been to many a revivals but we've never had that kind of grub, or any grub. I'm hungry like a wolf now for those home cooked picnic items. :0)

Sarah said...

Oh... I missed them, too. I miss them, too.

Cyndy said...

I've never been to a camp meeting but they sound very special. Thank you for sharing about it.

Well, I finally got my meme post up and I'm letting you know! It was fun and a little challenging to find SIX random things about myself!

Shawna said...

I have never even heard ofo a Campmeeting, but it sounds just wonderful. Thanks for the beautiful post, and for the thoughtful comment on my blog. I look forward to visiting here often!

God Chaser said...

What lovely thoughts about change and it's acceptance. Yes life is but a breath. But each breath is wonderful when remember how short a breath is.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Campmeeting meant so much to me as a youth. For years we would attend as a family, as the campmeeting grounds were less than 2 miles from my house.

As a teenager, my dad would pack up 10 days worth of stuff in the back of the truck and haul me off to the dorms with my friends. Those were some of the best 10 days of my life, year after year.

I walked that aisle more times than I could count. Sang those sons. Ate some of the best food (including snow cones) and those fans...you remember those fans with the Last Supper on the front?

There's not much left of that campmeeting these days. They will gather in July, but the glory days have passed. Just reliving them today through your words has got me thinking about another day...

a day when we will all gather again around the throne of heaven for worship of the truest kind.

I can taste it, even now, and I am so thankful for the remembrance and for the anticipation of what's to be.

Thanks, Robin, for walking me down the road of my spiritual shaping. The seeds that were planted at the Wilmore Campmeeting are growing into full bloom.


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