During my first year as camp director at high school camp, we were beginning our letter ritual on Friday morning, and I decided to take a seat at the piano and provide some music to help focus our minds on writing. I took my seat, and as soon as I hit my first chord, the power went out in the entire campus. We sat in total darkness.
As camp director, I would have expected my responsibility radar to go crazy in this moment. After all, in just six short hours we were supposed to be putting up Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in front of three hundred of these camper’s closest family and friends. An event like this usually requires electricity. I probably should have gotten my butt off that piano bench and figured out what we were going to do, but for some reason, hopefully other then my own irresponsibility, I stayed put. The campers all quickly brought out their phones to be used and writing lights, and I began playing worship songs.
After a few minutes I found myself in a vamp between songs when I heard the strong voice of a male camper emerging from the darkness, “God said let there be light,” he said, “He is a light in the darkness, nothing can ever defeat Him.” I continued to play for a minute or so more before the lights flickered back on, only for a moment, and then went out again. At the time, I didn’t even think of how coincidental his words were, so I continued to play.
About half an hour went by when one of my fellow counselors informed me that we were still going to the cafeteria for lunch, which was in about five minutes, even though we didn’t have power. Our letter writing time was coming to a close and the majority of the campers had now crawled back into the pews, and were softly singing along with the songs I was playing. I invited them all to stand and join me in one last time of worship before lunchtime. We then launched into Will Reagan’s song Set a Fire, and for a good three minutes we repeated the heavenly mantra, “There’s not place I’d rather be, then here in Your love”. And as I let the final chord ring out through the rafters of the chapel and up into the heavens I lifted my hands and began to pray. “Lord, we lift up a shout of praise—“ and, click. Before I could go any further, the lights came back on with a thud, and this time, they were on to stay.
I sat there for a split second with my hands in the air still, deciding that there was nothing left to say, that God deserved the last word with His miraculous act. “Amen!” I proclaimed, “Go to lunch!”
It was indeed a miraculous moment. I wish I could say that I was confident the whole time that the Lord would turn the lights back on, but I’m just not that spiritual I guess. One thing I learned though, was in that half hour, God wanted to do two things, focus our hearts for reflection, which is why He turned off the lights, and show how amazingly real He is, which is why, and how He turned them back on.
I think there are many places in our lives where we need the power to go out. In the world we live in, with cities like New York City and Las Vegas, where electric lights shine twenty four hours a day, we can easily be deceived that we are constantly living in the light. But when there is a power outage in New York, the world experiences the fear of true darkness. Those of us who are in Christ however, know the illusion that elextric light creates, and live above and beyond it. Without electric light to guide us into distractions and earthly things, we are only left with the heavenly light of Christ and the fellowship and closeness of our brothers and sisters in the church.
Camp, for me, over the years, has been a turning off of the lights. It’s a chance to lose power of the real world for a week and sit in the darkness, allowing the light of Christ to flow in and through me again. It is because of this story that now, at least once I week I do my quiet time in the dark by candle light, praying that the same flame that keeps the candle burning would ignite my soul in it’s pursuit of a strong relationship with Christ.