Warm August days remind me of a summer I spent as a camp counselor. One day a curious group of young campers gathered around me.  They arrived at the camp just the day before, after they anxiously boarded a school bus and left the noisy city streets to embrace an adventure at a camp in a quiet suburb.  Although the trip took just over an hour, they were now a world away from the familiar.

“Today we’re going stream hiking,” I announced to the handful of elementary-aged campers.  “And, we’re going to go crayfish hunting.” I added, lifting the stack of small white buckets.  “You’ll each need one of these.” Their puzzled looks reminded me that new to our camp, they hadn’t yet had the opportunity to wander through a cold stream uncovering unknown critters from behind the unassuming rocks.  I knelt down, and described the appearance of the crayfish we hunted.

Their inquisitive expressions were quickly replaced by excitement and wonder.  Their contagious energy and enthusiasm conveyed the thrill of searching for something they’d never seen before.  Their white buckets clanked against the camper’s legs as we headed for the rocky creek bed.

Once we arrived, we cautiously stepped into the cold water that seemed refreshing on the hot summer’s day. Within moments, one of the campers squealed “I caught something!” She lifted her bucket, water sloshing up and over the sides. “You found a tadpole.” I said before we turned to continue up the stream. 

The palpable excitement energized each one of us as the campers proudly lifted their buckets with each new catch. But with all the celebrated catches, we’d only managed to find frogs, tadpoles, and fish – not a single crayfish in the bunch. As our adventure continued, it was easy to see the camper’s growing doubt. A few began to doubt that crayfish really existed.  “Have you ever really seen one?” one asked.  “Yes, absolutely.” I responded, but they remained doubtful despite my reply. “We’ll need to keep looking.” I reassured my less than convinced pint sized crowd.

Then it happened. A loud squeal stopped everyone in their tracks. “I caught one!!” one of the campers shouted. “I really caught one!” The curious group crowded around and peered into the small pail.  There, scooped up with some dirt and water was one lonely crayfish. Success!

A swell of enthusiasm and excitement rushed over the campers.  With a renewed energy, they all began earnestly searching. When we finished some time later, all of the campers had found their own treasures. “Can we look for crayfish everyday?” one asked as we stacked the buckets and headed back to camp.

I warmly remember the excitement of that day. I’m also reminded that in life, it is easy for us to be a lot like that group of campers. When we think of searching for God or His purpose for life, we can easily find ourselves feeling similar emotions.  Maybe it’s a totally foreign idea, something we’ve never really done before. Or, maybe we’ve tried but feel like we’re still empty handed.  Or, we’ve found some of what we searched for and hunger to find so much more. Wherever today finds you, prayer can be a valuable tool for your journey. Pick a prayer focus based on where you are today:

  • Pray for more curiosity to know God better and to hunger for His word and will for your life.
  • Pray that you would know God more and find Him in your everyday life.
  • Pray for His peace when you find yourselves feeling empty on your journey.
  • Pray for His direction when you feel as though you haven’t found your purpose.
  • Pray for strength to carry the bucket He’s given you, as some days you will face challenges.
  • Pray for a bigger bucket. As you seek His plan for your life and grow along the way, continue to pray that your impact for Him grows as well!

I think back to that warm summer day in a cold stream with unsuspecting campers. Oh, the joy that would have been missed if we had stopped searching before we found our first crayfish. If we had allowed discouragement or doubt deter us from the adventure, it would have ended with emptiness and cold wet feet.  The same is true in life.  If we don’t pursue God’s purpose for our lives, we miss out on the best life has to offer!

Now, grab your pail, your curiosity, your enthusiasm, and step in the stream of life. Actively pursue God and His purpose for your life. His exciting treasures await you. Start where you are today – pray and press on!