It has been two weeks since our junior camp, and only now have I found sufficient composure and patience to write about this...and to ask the question out loud, "What happened to praise night?"
I was the music coordinator for our camp and was told to handle the last night's praise event. I was excited from the moment I received the task. I've always loved leading special events, and I wanted to do so many innovative things with this one.
There would be four groups of children doing choreography, there would be a god-glorifying atmosphere the whole evening, there would be impeccable coordination for our dual-songleader experiment, and there would be perfect musical chemistry with my mom as our pianist. I was extremely excited. I was praying everyday for the event. I knew it would last long in my memories.
It will last long in my memory, but not in a positive way.
That night, the camp children were all rowdy, disobedient, inattentive, and stubborn. The choreographies became self-glorifying, worldly special numbers. The technical support struggled. My co-songleader and I had horrible coordination and almost zero command. My mom did not have enough time to practice with us.
It was a living nightmare.
After the event, the kids were shouting at the top of their lungs and comparing their programs. Some camp leaders told me I did a good job, but I knew I didn't.
I wanted so much to cry after praise night, and I would have blubbered if I could have found a place to be alone with God. My dream of a wonderful god-centered evening had turned into the campers' popularity contest. I don't know what went wrong...I really, really didn't know...
During the rest of the camp and for many days afterwards, I cried out loud to God. What went wrong? I had prepared, prayed, and searched for a pure heart...but still, something went wrong. What? Why?
It would be easy to blame it on the kids' lack of discipline. I could say it was the fault of immature leaders. I could also blame the inexperience of our music team together. Yet I knew I couldn't do that, I knew God was telling me something else.
Then it came to me as tears were brimming in my eyes.
Even though I had always thought about the event as a god-glorifying event, even though I had started out with god-centered motives...that dream had become my own. Something like what Phil Vischer said about Veggietales, I had taken a godly dream and made it all about my own vision. I was excited about glorifying God that praise night, but I was more concerned with successfully making MY OWN event glorify God.
And as could be expected, it didn't.
I am sad over this, very sad. Just the thought of the entire ordeal brings me pain. It is a lesson hard-learnt. I am sad in particular that I actually deceived myself into thinking I had a pure heart, when I had a selfish one.
Still, I thank the Lord for His graciousness in pointing this out to me. It is a lesson that I might have to apply again as I continue to serve Him. I pray that He help me remember this lesson, and let my example serve as a warning to my fellow servants.
It must be all about Him, and really all about Him. Teach us, Lord, to remember this.