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by DanWolgemuth on August 11, 2017

240 middle school students filed out of the Club Room at Sunstream Camp in Odgen, Iowa in silence. They had just been riveted to every word that Jarell Roach (J-Roach) had communicated about brokenness, confession, forgiveness, restoration and hope. It was time to reflect and respond. It was time to consider and declare.  It was solo time.

Solo time… a 15-minute oasis in the midst of activity, music, food, conversation, laughter and despair. The waning moments of dusk provided the canvas on which the landscape of life was contemplated. Students found a patch of grass roughly ten feet from any other individual. 240 of them littered across the terrain. Another 40 leaders following the same routine of solitude.

The intended silence was violated from the very first moment by a middle school student I’ll refer to as Josh.

For 15 minutes Josh wept.

An unmasked cry became the dial-tone for 15 minutes of reflection. Tears… dipped from the well of brokenness, sin, and pain poured from Josh. They poured across every soul that covered the grass at Sunstream. They washed over me as well.

There was no rush to comfort, no race to console. Authentic lament demands a clear line of sight to righteousness. Lament is birthed from unrestricted access to the throne of a just and holy God.

And so Josh wailed.

But in his breath, the breath of a middle school student from Nebraska, he became the surrogate amplification of every other lament in that field. Every desperate plea, every word of regret, every ounce of shame used Josh’s vocal cords.

It was my breath in his lungs. He cried my tears.

In that field, on that Monday night, Josh articulated a robust theology of sin. He wept.

Lament is the bedrock upon which restoration builds. Tears water the seeds of hope. Guilt is the landfill on which the magnitude of mercy is exposed. Grace flourishes where sin is understood.

Lament was the dial-tone. Then the voice of hope.

Shouts of “YES” echoed across the camp. Yes to Jesus. Yes to forgiveness. Yes to transformation. Yes to destiny and dignity. Yes to a transformed identity.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
                        you have loosed my sackcloth
                        and clothed me with gladness,
            that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
                        O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalm 30:11-12 ESV)

Josh… the voice of lament. The usher to grace.

His voice amplified in every soul at Sunstream as a warmup act for Jesus.

Then praise. Then shouts of joy.

Saved. Rescued. Reborn.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

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