There was one summer where this happened to me unmistakably. I showed up to high school camp one summer already knowing every single camper on my team, except for one girl, we’ll call her Jamie. Jamie was a sweet girl, shy, with beautifully circular eyes. We met one another, and for some reason, I had the hardest time for the whole first day remembering her name, so I made it a point to always say hello to her whenever I saw her.
I cam to find during the audition process that she was a talented dancer as well, and when we were casting late one night it came down to deciding between her and one other girl for the final spot in the ‘specialty dance’ group, a group that would spend almost all of their rehearsal time with me.
The specialty dance is always one of my favorite parts about camp. I get to work with eight to twelve of the most talent dancers in camp, it’s a great artistic and ministry opportunity that you don’t get with the larger groups of twenty or bigger.
While we were casting, we originally made the decision to go with the other girl, who I knew from years previous, so I thought she would be a safer choice. But then, right before I got up to go to bed, the director told me that she needed the girl we had just cast for a different role in the show. So we made the adjustment, and at the last second, Jamie was added to my group, making sure that we would spend almost all our rehearsal time with one another for the rest of the week.
As the week went on, Jamie and I continued to run into one another. On Tuesday night, the counselors threw a dance. But not any normal dance, normal dances are not allowed at camp. This dance was a surprise wedding reception for a lucky chosen bride and groom. We sent to campers to change, and us counselors scrambled to set up lights, streamers, music, and a dance floor, as well as choosing the wedding party, planning the schedule for the reception, and of course, creating an entire wedding slide show, complete with Photoshopped Facebook photos of the “bride and groom” and their happy relationship together up to this point.
As you may have already guessed, Jamie was chosen as our bride, and because she was on my team, I was to play part of “father of the bride”. I gave a speech telling about Jamie’s birth story, and we shared a daddy daughter dance, during which I told her how proud I was of the woman she had become. It was hilarious, and one of the most fun dances I have ever been to. But little did I know, the words I spoke to Jamie during I dance, while playing the part at the time, I would truly mean them later in the week.
Rehearsal continued, and as I got to know the girls in my group, I discovered that all of them had been training in dance class for quite some time, all of them, except for Jamie. As we were learning choreography, I noticed that Jamie was having some trouble. She had all the ability she needed to do the moves, but she would allow herself to be psyched out if she were to miss even one step. After one rehearsal I took her aside and I said, “Are you intimidated?” Clearly mercy is not one of my gifts, but she looked at me as if she knew exactly what I was talking about.
“No,” she said, I’m just completely insecure about pretty much everything.” Her tone was matter of fact, and completely without emotion, as if this was a state she had been living in for a while.
“Well you shouldn’t be,” I told her, “You can do all of these moves just as well, if not better then everyone else on that stage. You’re good, and it’s beautiful when you do it. Don’t beat yourself up if you get one step wrong.”
I could tell this meant a lot to her, and that she may have been in the verge of tears, so we both did our best to finish our exchange for she was not one who liked to cry in front of people, and I was not one to comfort, another gift that is admittedly not my strongest.
The stage was then set for Thursday night, the last night of camp, most commonly referred to by counselors as faith night, and more commonly referred to by campers as crying night. I was to be giving the salvation message and I was going to tie it in with feet washing and planting ourselves in the living water of Jesus.
Now first of all, God moved in incredible ways that night, I saw and heard the Holy Spirit physically and tangibly in others. I heard people encouraging one another and praying for one another in ways that I knew were beyond our earthly capabilities. While viewing all of this, at one point I looked over and I saw a young girl who seemed to be weeping with exceeding passion. The only reason this sight struck me so hard was because I had looked over at this girl only five minutes before, and she had been totally fine, the only difference now, was the Jamie sat behind her, laying her hands on the girls back, and was praying for her.
It was at this moment that I began to see the orchestrations of our loving God. I saw her mouth moving at a frenzied speed, that, along with the other girl’s emotional reaction only could be explained in my mind by one thing, Jamie had received the gift of intercessory prayer, a gift that I myself have been given from time to time.
I soon turned away and began to pray and talk with other campers who needed a place to let go of their burdens, and about twenty minutes later I turned and Jamie was standing right in front of me. It took only a moment of our eyes locking before the water in her eyes boiled over into a full sob.
“I don’t feel worthy to have anyone wash my feet,” she said, “I try so hard, and I want to love God more, but there is no way that I could live up to the Christian standard.”
My heart broke as I heard this, yet I felt God place a very simple, beautiful answer on my heart for her. “None of us are worthy enough to have our feet washed,” I said, “But Jesus desires to do it anyway, not only because He loves us, but so He can plant us in that love.”
“And as for this ‘Christian standard’, the only standard that any Christian is held to is that we love God and accept His free gift of grace.” The standard is not to be perfect, the standard is to accept your natural imperfection and accept the gift of perfection through the grace of Jesus Christ. These were obviously the Spirit’s words in me and not my own. I have never been very eloquent in my speech.
I relayed this to her, and I could still sense her hesitancy. So I continued, “Here is what we’re gonna do,” I said, “I have not washed any feet tonight. And I would be humbled and honored, if your feet were the only ones I washed.”
From there the two of us walked over to the baths together and I washed her feet with tears streaming down both of our faces. I’m not sure if it was as clear to her as it was to me, but I was realizing in that moment that God had set us up specifically to meet one another. He had been orchestrating our lives in just the right way so that when our two melodies collided, we would create a beautiful worship hymn to his great glory. He’s doing it all the time, we just have to open our eyes to see it, cause when we do, He will open our ears to enjoy the music.