Several years ago, I had a camping experience that changed my life. It was sponsored by a group called CFO, which stands for Camps Farthest Out. It is a nondenominational organization where people go deeper in their walk with the Lord…literally, farther out than they have been before. This blog gives you a taste of what it’s all about.
The other day I thought about my first CFO camp experience. Friends invited me for three years, but I always said no. It was 1999 and money was tight in Davenport. I was trying to hang onto my ‘togetherness’ when it was falling apart. A vacation sounded wonderful, even if it meant visiting Cedar Falls, Iowa. That’s how I said yes to CFO. Thank God for scholarships!
All hell broke loose the week before. The transmission went on the car. A friend tried to commit suicide, so I spent time in the hospital with her. Someone loaned me a car so my son, Sean, and I could go. Forget the Martha Stewart approach. I threw clothes in a suitcase, grabbed the sleeping bags, and we hit the road!
My picture of Christianity focused on Bible knowledge and faithfulness in duty. It was important to know the right answers for any situation. Doing instead of being.
CFO didn’t fit that mold. My mind worked overtime trying to figure this place out. In the midst of that struggle, people were accepting not only me, but each other. My spirit was soaking in the love, but my brain wanted to nail down every jot and tittle. Intrigued, I kept coming back.
Every time I found the same mix of ingredients: All kinds of people, an emphasis on prayer and kingdom living, and unconditional love from Spirit led folks. And every time I went, I found myself changing.
For several years, I struggled to explain this experience. Finally God gave me the right words in a letter to my brother. “People from all different backgrounds come to CFO, but that’s not really important. What is important is being the Body of Christ together. I had to drop my title as Bible expert and realize it’s not my job to change everyone. Instead, we all focus on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit be our teacher. For me, it’s like stepping into Jesus’ world instead of trying to squeeze Him into a small corner of my existence. I learn to actively practice His presence all day long.
As we focus on the Holy Spirit, the place comes alive! In prayer groups, we adore the Lord in His beauty. We are the Body that washes His feet with our praise and admiration for who He is. When needs come up, we find the basis of our unity is a love He has poured into us. We in turn pour that over the person in need.”
Are we perfect? No, not by any means. Sometimes the needs are great, but as we humble ourselves before God, He fills us with healing love. We learn with others through a practical show-and-tell way what it’s like to be children in the Kingdom. You get simple. You drop pretenses. You laugh a lot. We share intensely what God is doing in our lives. There is no TV or radio to break the rhythm, so we can focus on ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us – and practice what is to be the daily tenor of our lives.
CFO is a recipe for healthy Body Life in God’s Kingdom. At a Winter Retreat, I wrote: “I feel at home in Your Body, Lord. I haven’t always felt at ease in my physical body, but that’s changing. Now I marvel as I watch each person ‘be’ who You made them to be in Your presence. It’s so rich. Thank You that in CFO, there really is no place like home.
(For more information about Iowa CFO, contact me and I’ll send you a brochure. My phone number is 563-381-3980. You can also go to www.acfona.org for a list of 2012 camps and retreats in the U.S.