Back in my Army National Guard days, I volunteered for weekend camps with the state juvenile justice center. They run camps up in the mountains for juvenile offenders the courts have determined might be helped by such a “boot camp” experience. These are young kids (ages 12-17) who are already on a path to being career criminals and need a ‘wake-up call’ before their lives spiral absolutely out of control.
I was a squad leader and was assigned six young girls. They quickly became the best squad of the four we had at the camp and just as quickly, I became quite attached to them.
The youngest girl in my squad was a little 12 year old Hispanic girl named Gracie who was there because she had hit a boy in the face for calling her a “fat b-“. Gracie was overweight and pretty slow and was still a “little girl” in mind and understanding. Nearing the end of the week, we went on an 8 mile hike up and down the mountain. To say the least, this was a real challenge for the girls and for me. It was meant to be a confidence- building exercise for the girls. Gracie was the only one who kept stopping, whining, crying and saying, “it’s too hard, it’s too steep, I can’t do it, I can’t breathe”. At times, her team mates literally had to lift her up and drag her. We keep telling her to stop looking at the hills coming up and to just look at the five feet ahead of her and make that her goal. For most of the first 2 miles of the trek up, she just didn’t get it. But, finally, she began to do as we said and just focused at the five feet ahead of her. She didn’t cry anymore. She stopped complaining and the seven of us that were together actually had a good conversation. You see, the hills weren’t less steep, the pain was no less real, it wasn’t any more comfortable, it’s just that she stopped being overwhelmed by the entirety of the task and concentrated on what was just ahead. It took a little scared girl on a mountain trail to make me see that I am her. I cry. I whine. I sit down and say, “It’s too hard, it’s too steep, and I can’t breathe here, Lord! It’s just too much!”
He then has to pick me up (sometimes dragging me along) and the Spirit of God reminds me that I don’t need to look at the entirety of my whole purpose and what I have to accomplish. He just wants me to look at what He has for me right now and be obedient to Him each little step that I take. Wow! Four and-a-half days, eight mile march, loss of my voice, no sleep and six very troubled little girls; He really does go to all lengths to teach His child the things that are important to Him. Thank you Lord, I am humbled and appreciative of Your attentions. You amaze me!
Trust and obey.
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey.