For most of the fifty-two weeks of the year, my life as a religious liberty attorney is spent in the fast-paced, high stakes world of constitutional litigation. And because the threats to religious liberty show no signs of slowing, neither does life.
But for one week during the year, my family escapes the 21st Century American life and finds respite at Pine Cove Family Camp.
At its core, Pine Cove’s mission is to be “Christ centered, others focused, and seriously fun.” And boy do they mean it. Although Pine Cove is run by permanent staff, the heart and soul of camp is the hundreds of caffeine-fueled and Jesus-loving college students who comprise Pine Cove’s counselors.
Whether it is taking care of toddlers before dawn so mom and dad can sneak in some much-needed sleep, loving on an awkward middle child, or feeding several dozen families three times each day, the counselors exist to demonstrate God’s love by serving others. There’s something quite unsettling about a college student offering to cut my pancakes into little pieces, dip them in syrup, and then feed them to me. But above all, Pine Cove is a place where the weary find rest.
As Christians, rest is not only beneficial, but it is Biblical. In Genesis, God the Father set the example for us by resting on the seventh day after creating the world and all that is within it. And Jesus exhorts those of us who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him, and He will give us rest.
There is deep wisdom in rest. Even though I work for a faith-based ministry, doing work that I love in support of a mission to which I have been called, I am still easy prey for the world. All too often, I allow my world around me to steal my joy. Rest, therefore, is a vital opportunity to pause and reflect on what God has done and what He is doing in my life. It is just as much a spiritual recalibration as it is a physical and mental one.
For my family, and countless others, we have been blessed to find rest at Pine Cove.
Our week at Pine Cove was filled with early morning horseback rides, afternoons on the lake, late night storytelling, and more laughter and good old-fashioned fun than we thought could fill a week. And in between all the activities, we experienced incredible times of prayer, worship, and rest. What makes a week at Pine Cove especially sweet is that it is spent together with family and friends. Indeed, as the Psalmist declares, “behold how good and pleasing it is when brothers [and sisters] live together in harmony.”
As I reflect on that week at Pine Cove, I recall that we left camp physically exhausted from all the fun, but spiritually and emotionally recharged. My only regret is that, ironically, it went by too fast.
Perhaps the greatest testament to Pine Cove’s draw is that, of all the places and activities we could possibly choose to spend next summer’s vacation, we all agreed that we will once again attend Pine Cove. It will likely be our last, as two of our four children will be too old to attend thereafter. But I smile at the knowledge that my family’s last year means the following year will be a new family’s first year at Pine Cove. I pray that family will find the rest through Christ that has so greatly blessed my own family.
Photo from Shutterstock.