Sighing deeply, I watched a flock of geese fly overhead, their loud
honk-honking echoing over the valley. I wiped at the fresh droplets
of perspiration on my forehead and continued the task at hand: garbage
patrol. My activities marked the end of a fun week of summer camp;
or at least it had been fun until the bus that my church youth group
should have been currently driving home in had broken down. It was
being fixed in a shop a few hours away.
We would be leaving fairly soon to
pick it up, but in the meantime, our group had volunteered to help
by cleaning up the camp. My friend, Laney, was helping me do a few
odd jobs here and there and, quite frankly, we were bored to no
extent. When our tasks were finally finished, we set off to find
the rest of the group.
We found our friends spread out at
the paddleboat dock, not bored like us, but teary. Even the boys'
eyes glistened with unshed tears! "Ok, these guys don't cry," I
thought, "something really strange must be going on here."
"What's the matter with them?" I asked
Laney. She just shrugged in return. So we both went to Austin, one
of the teens standing by, and asked him what was happening. But
we weren't prepared for the story he proceeded to tell us.
While we girls had been helping clean,
the boys from our church had gone to their cabin to hang out. They
decided to make a horror movie that had a dead man hanging in the
bathroom. Devon, (the teen in charge at that time) decided that
he would be that dead man. The boys took some rope and tied it to
a pole over the toilet. Then, Devon climbed onto the toilet, and
the guys tied the dangling rope loosely around his neck.
Devon waited there as the other boys
went outside to film the opening scene. As he waited for them to
come in and discover his "dead" body, Devon tried to make the scene
even more realistic. Tightening the rope around his neck, he hung
his head down and slouched forward. Devon's pose was realistic,
a little too realistic. His air supply blocked by the tight rope,
Devon momentarily blacked out and fell with his full weight onto
the improvised noose.
Outside the bathroom, the boys had
just finished acting out one of the parts and were heading back
when they heard a thump from the other side of the bathroom door.
"What was that?" they wondered.
The boys rushed through the door to
see Devon on the floor, half of the broken rope still choking his
throat. They removed it as quickly as they could, revealing a bleeding,
red mark encircling his neck.
"'If that rope wouldn't have snapped,
then I wouldn't have been playing the dead man, I would have
been the dead man.' Devon told us. 'That rope was a really
tough rope; only God could have broken that.'" As Austin finished
telling us the story, tears stung my eyes at the thought that we'd
nearly lost a friend that day. I was struck by the realization that
I'd been wallowing in self-pity over having to pick up Coke cans
at the very moment that Devon could have died, ending his own life
and changing all our lives forever.
After Austin finished the story, everyone
decided to go into the chapel and thank God for sparing Devon's
life. We also started to apologize to God for all the sinful things
that we'd been doing before that week. The other boys apologized
to Devon for nearly killing him, but Devon didn't blame them. He
said that since he was in charge, he could have told them not to
do the dead man scene, but instead he went along with them, so it
was his own fault.
At last it was time to go home, and
everyone attempted to forget what had happened and just be normal.
What we couldn't deny, though, is that our lives had been changed
in some way. A few people were making phone calls and telling their
parents through tears how sorry they were for back talking and disobeying.
Some were surrendering to God's call on their life that they'd been
resisting for some time.
As a group, we would always remember
what had happened at teen camp and how merciful and powerful God
was. Devon claims that God had used that incident as a wake-up call
for our teen group, telling us to get busy for Him because something
could happen to us tomorrow and, just like that, we'd be gone.
I decided that from that moment on
I would serve God as much as I could--nothing else really matters
to me. I'm not saying that I'm not allowed to enjoy things here
on earth, just that I cannot let anything be more important
to me than God. If there is anything at all that is keeping me from
Him, then I need to ask Him for forgiveness. I need Him. He's what
really matters in life! -Olivia