I remember my first experience at a Christian camp. It was the summer before my 8th grade year. My family had gone through a very tough season, but our saving grace was our church family. 

Our church was truly a respite for our souls. We were there Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. And this was my first away camp with my church’s youth group. I felt so grown up. 

I was saved at a young age, when I saw my mother get radically saved before my eyes. She led me to Jesus and I loved the Lord. But it wasn’t until this camp experience that I realized God wanted to speak to me personally on a daily basis through His Word. 

The youth speaker challenged each of us to carve out space for daily quiet time with the Lord, but not just that, he challenged us to find a designated spot to meet with the Lord and go spend time alone with Him. 

Each day of the camp, I would sit on the edge of the pier on the lake, open my Bible, look at the sun reflecting on the water and listen to the Lord as He spoke to me from His Word. For the first time I began the discipline of daily communion with Him. I made the intentional effort to close out everything and everyone and just sit and listen to God. 

It was easy to meet Him there in the beauty of that camp. The hard part came when I got home and realized there was not a lot of peace in my home and there was hardly any space. I shared a room with my little sister, so I couldn’t even shut the door to my room. I tried to go to the backyard, but I got eaten alive by mosquitos.

I began to realize this was going to be hard work. This would require careful and thoughtful planning. I would have to be intentional if this was going to work. 

If I wanted a consistent daily filling relationship with God, I would have to prepare my mind, my heart, and sometimes even pack gear and go somewhere else in order to have the space needed to hear Him speak. 

I have realized as a wife and mother that it can be even harder now to carve out space for my time with the Lord. I have to make an intentional effort and sometimes that means other priorities get dropped so that I can hear the Lord speak. But what I have found over the years is that my time with Jesus is truly my sustenance. Without that time with Him, I am anemic spiritually and there is no way I can be what I need to be for my husband, my daughter, or my ministry.

I call this metaphorical journey we all need to endeavor upon the Upward Climb, because I liken our time with the Lord to an uphill climb. I am going to suggest that each of you reading this has an appointed mountain to climb. It will take effort and hard work to get to that mountain.

Some of you may be called out of something else in order to get to that mountain. But that mountain is worth the climb. Because it is there that He wants to meet with you. For me it is one of two places – my bedroom or my chair in the living room. I have to turn off my phone, turn off my TV, tune out the needs of my family or my job and focus on my Creator. I have to give Him that time. It is there that I can receive from Him and get the strength to invite others to the mountain. 

This seems like a no brainer, simple thing that we all know we need to do as leaders in ministry – spend time with Jesus. But sadly, what I have witnessed, and even at times experienced in my own life, is that this can be the easiest priority to drop or let grow stale. We don’t want to disappoint others so we lay down the most important for the less important needs of others.

Leaders, let’s make sure we make that daily upward climb, up to our appointed mountain.

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Jessica Cole

Jessica Cole

Director of Women's Ministries at West Shore Free Church
Jessica currently serves as the Director of Women’s Ministries at West Shore Free Church in Mechanicsburg, PA. Prior to serving at West Shore, for several years Jessica was a music evangelist and had the opportunity to proclaim the gospel through music internationally and in almost every state in the US. Most recently she served on staff as the Director of Worship Arts for almost 13 years at Salem Church in Staten Island, NY.
Jessica Cole

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